NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Explaining The Gender Gap

January 2, 1996

Contrary to popular reports that insist American women suffer from widespread wage discrimination and their careers are blocked by a "glass ceiling," a new study found little evidence that systematic discrimination against women in the marketplace exists today.

Researchers Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Christine Stolba found that:

  • Holding all factors constant, such as experience and life situations, women between the ages of 27 and 33 earn 95 percent to 98 percent as much as the average male worker.
  • From 1987 to 1992, the number of women-owned businesses rose 43 percent.
  • Today, women earn the majority of associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees, and nearly 40 percent of doctorates are awarded to women.
  • During the past decade, the number of female executive vice presidents more than doubled and the number of female senior vice presidents increased by 75 percent.

Based on their findings, Furchtgtt-Roth and Stolba conclude that affirmative action programs for women are not necessary.

Source: Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Christine Stolba, "Women's Figures: The Economic Progress of Women in America," 1996, American Enterprise Institute, 1150 Seventeenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 862-6400, and Independent Women's Forum, 2111 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 550, Arlington, VA 22201, (800) 224-6000.


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