It may come down to this troubling reality, new research suggests: Work done by women simply isn’t valued as highly.
That sounds like a truism, but the academic work behind it helps explain the pay gap’s persistence even as the factors long thought to cause it have disappeared. Women, for example, are now better educated than men, have nearly as much work experience and are equally likely to pursue many high-paying careers. No longer can the gap be dismissed with pat observations that women outnumber men in lower-paying jobs like teaching and social work.
striking example is to be found in the field of recreation — working in
parks or leading camps — which went from predominantly male to female
from 1950 to 2000. Median hourly wages in this field declined 57
percentage points, accounting for the change in the value of the dollar,
according to a complex formula used by Professor Levanon. The job of
ticket agent also went from mainly male to female during this period,
and wages dropped 43 percentage points.
same thing happened when women in large numbers became designers (wages
fell 34 percentage points), housekeepers (wages fell 21 percentage
points) and biologists (wages fell 18 percentage points). The reverse
was true when a job attracted more men. Computer programming, for
instance, used to be a relatively menial role done by women. But when
male programmers began to outnumber female ones, the job began paying more and gained prestige.
This is the stark reality. The pay gap exists not because of women’s “inability” but because they are viewed as inherently less valuable human beings.
As Women Take Over a Male-Dominated Field, the Pay Drops
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