NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 17, 1996

Some statisticians contend that, upon closer inspection, the gap between men's and women's wages is not as wide as sometimes claimed. Also, that what gap does exist can be explained and justified by market factors having little to do with gender. Female activist groups often claim that women make only 77 cents for every dollar men earn.

But a new study by economists Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Christine Stolba, presented by the Independent Women's Forum, challenges that number and makes these points.

  • The 77 cents figure does not take into account age, education, kind of work or continuous years on the job.
  • If these considerations are factored in, the gap begins to disappear.
  • Women under the age of 30 -- who now tend to have qualifications similar to those of their male peers -- make 92 cents for every dollar earned by comparable males, holding things like schooling and job status constant.
  • For women over the age of 45 -- who did not have qualifications similar to males when they first entered the workforce -- the figure is just 66 cents.

While no large wage gap exists between young men and women without children, the decision to have a family takes a toll on women's wages -- largely because they still bear most of the responsibility for child care.

The finding of the Glass Ceiling Commission that just 5 percent of senior managers in Fortune 2000 firms are women has received considerable attention. But to achieve such a position, experts say, a candidate usually must have an MBA and some 25 years of experience -- and few women in the workforce currently have both.

A survey by the executive search firm, Korn-Ferry International, revealed that 46 percent of men sought to become CEO of their company, compared to only 14 percent of women.

Source: Perspective, "Women's Wages," Investor's Business Daily, December 17, 1996.


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