Gender Pay Gap

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    • 00:00

      [MUSIC PLAYING][Gender Pay Gap]

    • 00:10

      MARY GATTA: Hello.My name is Dr. Mary Gatta, and I am an associate professorof sociology at the City University of NewYork at Guttman College. [Dr. Mary Gatta, AssociateProfessor, City University of New York-- Guttman College]And today, we are going to talk about the gender pay gap.We're going to learn about what the pay gap is,how we calculate it, what it lookslike across a lot of different demographic groups,around race, for example.

    • 00:31

      MARY GATTA [continued]: And then we are going to talk about, well, howdo we get rid of the pay gap?What kind of public policies can we talk about?It's good to get a sense of wherewomen are in the labor force.Right now, women are about 50% of our workers,and are going to account for almost half the growthof workers in the labor force.

    • 00:52

      MARY GATTA [continued]: And women are working a lot.3/4 of women work full-time, and a quarter work part-time.And mothers are working.71% of women with children are working in the paid laborforce.And women's wages matter.They matter to a family's bottom line--how they're paying for their housing and their healthcare and their food.In almost 30% of families where both women and men work,

    • 01:15

      MARY GATTA [continued]: women are actually the primary earner.So women's wages matter.But despite all this working and unemployment,the poverty rate for women is actuallyhigher than that of men.Part of this is that women are among some of our lowest wageworkers.63% of minimum wage workers in the US are women.

    • 01:36

      MARY GATTA [continued]: But more than that, not all womenshare an equal probability of working yet stillbeing in poverty.African American working women have a poverty rateof almost 12%.Hispanic working women have a poverty rate of 10%.White women, though, have a poverty rate of 4%.

    • 01:56

      MARY GATTA [continued]: And the group with the highest poverty rate?They are single, working mothers.[What is the gender pay Gap?]One of the reasons why women, while working,have higher rates of poverty is that women are actuallyearning less than men.

    • 02:18

      MARY GATTA [continued]: And we call this the gender pay gap,that there is a gap between what men and women earnfor the same type of work.Now, how do we know there's a pay gap?We can say it, but where is the data and the evidenceto support this?Sociologists use federal data sets collectedby the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

    • 02:41

      MARY GATTA [continued]: in order to figure out and calculate how much less womenare earning relative to men.And it's actually a pretty simple calculationto figure out the pay gap.All you look at is men's median earnings,so what is the middle point in termsof the distribution of men's earnings in the labor force,

    • 03:01

      MARY GATTA [continued]: and women's median earnings.What is the middle point, again, that women are earning?You take those two data points.You take men's median earnings, and yousubtract from women's earnings.And then you divide that by men's median earning.So let's look at an example to try to makeit a little more concrete.In 2012, the median annual earnings in the US for women

    • 03:24

      MARY GATTA [continued]: were around $37,791.And for men, the annual median earnings was about $49,398.We would then take those data pointsand plug it into that pay gap equation.So you would take men's median earnings, that $49,000 number,subtract women's, which was the $37,791, get that answer,

    • 03:52

      MARY GATTA [continued]: and then divide that by men's median earnings of $49,398.And you would learn that the pay gap is 23%.So what does that number mean?That means that women are earning about 23%less than men.So if men are earning $1, women are earning$0.23 less than that dollar.

    • 04:14

      MARY GATTA [continued]: Now we have the pay gap today, but one thing we knowis actually, the pay gap has been around for quite a while.Some of the earliest records were back in 1313 in Paris,where we learn that women's wealth was about 2/3that of men, very comparable to that number wejust calculated today.Here in the US, throughout industrialization,

    • 04:36

      MARY GATTA [continued]: women earned less than half, sometimes a thirdto a quarter of men's earnings.When we look over more recent times,we see that the pay gap remained pretty low and relativelyconstant from the 1950s through the 1980s,then jumped in the '80s, and then,throughout the '90s and the 2000s,

    • 04:56

      MARY GATTA [continued]: has been pretty constant.So in 1955, women earned about 64% of men's earnings.In 1975, we saw women earning about 59%.And by the mid-'90s, that gap had closed to 71%.But yet throughout the rest of the '90s and the 2000s,

    • 05:17

      MARY GATTA [continued]: that gap pretty much stagnated around that 80% number.And it makes a huge difference in terms of women's lifetimeearnings, because it's cumulative.So every paycheck is impacted.So over a lifetime, the average woman earns about $380,000less than the average working man.

    • 05:40

      MARY GATTA [continued]: That is a significant sum of moneythat impacts her overall economic security and thatof her family.It's lost income[Pay Gap Across Demographics]But just like when we looked at poverty ratesa few minutes ago, when we look at the pay gap across race,we see that they are some pretty significant differences.

    • 06:03

      MARY GATTA [continued]: So white women earn about 82% of what white men earn.However, when we look across race, we see big differences.So black women earn about 68% as much of what a white man earns.And for Hispanic women, that gap is even larger.Hispanic women are earning about 59% of what white men earn.

    • 06:27

      MARY GATTA [continued]: So one thing we know is that while the pay gap existsfor all women, it exists differently,depending on what demographic group a woman is in.So white women will out-earn other women.And the same is true of men.So black and Hispanic men earn significantly lessthan what white men earn.We also know that age is a really important variable.

    • 06:50

      MARY GATTA [continued]: So when men and women are youngerand they enter the labor market, the pay gap is smaller.There's a little more equity at the early career stages.As women and men age and progress in the labor market,we actually see the pay gap increaseas their careers move on.[Why does the pay gap exist?]

    • 07:14

      MARY GATTA [continued]: Sociologists are very interested in not only documenting the paygap and how it differs across demographic groups,but also trying to understand why does it exist.Why does the pay gap exist?And there are some different explanationsthat are moved forward.So one is a very individualistic explanation.

    • 07:35

      MARY GATTA [continued]: And it's quite simply that women make different choices, havedifferent attitudes and preferences in the labormarket, that just makes them less productive.So women don't make the same choices as men do.And then that is why the pay gap exists.And simply to close the gap, all womenhave to do is make the same choices that men make.

    • 07:56

      MARY GATTA [continued]: So let's unpack that explanation for a bit.Is it that the pay gap exists simplybecause women make bad choices?They don't invest in their education?They don't invest in jobs that have higher wages?So men and women who both have college degreesactually have a pay gap still.So even though women made the same educational choices

    • 08:17

      MARY GATTA [continued]: as men, they made those same choices, the gap still exists.And the same is true when we look at the occupation levels.When we look at different jobs, such as scientists or doctors,we see that male doctors out-earn female doctors.So again, women make the same choices,but the pay gap exists.

    • 08:39

      MARY GATTA [continued]: So there's got to be something a little more.And the other thing we know is that not all menare equally privileged in regard to earnings.We know that there are racial differences in pay among men.So African American men and Hispanic menearn less than white men.So after we kind of control for all the different variables--

    • 09:02

      MARY GATTA [continued]: education, job choices and occupation, race--we see that the pay gap continues to exist.So we control for human capital variables, these choicesthat people make, and we still have a pay gap.So something more must be going on.It's not just that women make bad choices in the labor

    • 09:23

      MARY GATTA [continued]: market, but that there are structural factors thatare impacting the pay gap.So one thing to think about is a concept called occupational sexsegregation.So I will read off some occupationsthat are the leading occupations for women.And just kind of think about what year this was.

    • 09:44

      MARY GATTA [continued]: So what year was it when secretaryand administrative assistant was the leading occupation,followed by registered nurses, waiters and waitresses,first-line supervisors and managers of retail salesworkers, customer service representatives, maidand housekeeping cleaners, receptionists and information

    • 10:04

      MARY GATTA [continued]: clerks, bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks,and childcare workers?That year was pretty recently.It was just last year.So part of the problem is that occupations where womenare located are often devalued.And they are devalued in terms of wages and other labor market

    • 10:24

      MARY GATTA [continued]: rewards.So when we look across our labor market,we see that women get concentratedin lower-wage occupations.Women are concentrated in lower-paying jobs,and that is an important structural factorcontributing to the pay gap.We also have strong gender ideologies and stereotypes

    • 10:45

      MARY GATTA [continued]: that impact the value we see on workthat men and women bring to the labor market.So we often think of men as supporting families.And then they need more money to support their families,even though if you recall a little earlier,we found that 29% of families wheremen and women are both working, women

    • 11:06

      MARY GATTA [continued]: are the primary breadwinners.But the gender ideology that the manis the breadwinner and the woman is not impactshow we pay workers and value workers in the labor market.There's another concept that sociologistsuse called statistical discrimination thatimpacts access to jobs.So often, labor market institutions,

    • 11:29

      MARY GATTA [continued]: such as unions, for example, sometimeshave prevented women from gaining accessinto higher-paying jobs or specialties.Also, the type of education and training onehas impacts access.So the pay gap is actually this configuration of inequality.And we have to look much more than saying it's justchoices people are making.

    • 11:50

      MARY GATTA [continued]: But what are different structures in our labor market?What are the structural factors?And that's what sociologists are always searching for.The other thing that I think is very interestingis that at points in our collective history in the US,pay discrimination was not illegal.

    • 12:11

      MARY GATTA [continued]: In fact, back in 1864, the United States Congresslegislated substantially lower pay for women than men.So it actually officially mandateddiscrimination of women.As we move through the early part of the 20th century,we began to see many states kind of pushing back on that.

    • 12:32

      MARY GATTA [continued]: So in 1919, Michigan and Montana actuallypassed equal pay laws that said wehave to pay men and women fairly and equally.And others states followed suit.And then, by 1963, the US Congresspassed a federal law called the Equal Pay Act.And the Equal Pay Act made it illegal to pay workers

    • 12:53

      MARY GATTA [continued]: differently because of gender.So jobs that required equal skill, equal effort,responsibility, and that were performedunder similar conditions, men and womenhad to be paid equally in those jobs.But a year later in 1964, Title VII of the Civil Rights Actwas enacted.

    • 13:14

      MARY GATTA [continued]: And that made it illegal to discriminate,including wages and pay, on the basis of sex, race, color,religion, and national origin.So paying men and women differently for the same workis illegal.So the Equal Pay Act is an important piece of legislation.It is an official statement against pay discrimination.

    • 13:36

      MARY GATTA [continued]: But its impact is somewhat limited still.It's often a burden of enforcementfalls on the victim to identify pay discrimination.People may be concerned that if they issue a complaintthat they are not being paid fairly,their employer may retaliate against them.There is still discrimination that's

    • 13:57

      MARY GATTA [continued]: sort of more subtle that men and women are experiencing.And actually, women have lost many more casesthan they've won in terms of bringing forward claimsagainst the Equal Pay Act.And more importantly, it's been over four decadessince we have the Equal Pay Act, and still the pay gapcontinues to exist.Just a few years ago, many of you

    • 14:19

      MARY GATTA [continued]: may have seen a woman called Lilly Ledbetter.And Lilly Ledbetter brought forward a caseto the Supreme Court.She had worked her entire career for Goodyear Tire.And late in her career, she learnedthat over her decades working there,she was not paid fairly, relative to other managers

    • 14:39

      MARY GATTA [continued]: at Goodyear.So she brought a case to the Supreme Court.And in a landmark case called Ledbetter versus GoodyearTire and Rubber Company, the Supreme Courtruled that employees could not challenge ongoing paydiscrimination if the employer's original discriminatory

    • 14:60

      MARY GATTA [continued]: decision occurred more than 180 days before.So that means within 180 days of your first discriminatory paycheck, if you didn't file a claim that you were being paidunfairly, you could not then at any levelchallenge your equal pay.

    • 15:20

      MARY GATTA [continued]: So this was a big loss to Lilly Ledbetter.As I said, she worked for decades at Goodyear Tire.And that discriminatory paycheck happened waymore than 180 days earlier.It also led to some other challenges.As you all probably know, pay informationis very confidential.It often takes a long time for someone

    • 15:42

      MARY GATTA [continued]: to realize that you may be experiencing discriminationin terms of compensation.The Lilly Ledbetter ruling by the Supreme Courtalso created an incentive for employersto conceal discriminatory contactuntil after that 180-day period.And more often, it provided that employers

    • 16:02

      MARY GATTA [continued]: whose compensation decisions are notchallenged within 180 days basically a windfallto continue discrimination.So the Lilly Ledbetter ruling reallyhelped to cut back on the impact of the Equal Pay Act.But Lilly Ledbetter fought for equal pay.And Lilly Ledbetter said this wasn't fair.

    • 16:23

      MARY GATTA [continued]: And although she would not be able to be helped,she felt there were many, many other women therewho have spent their careers working for unequal pay.And she worked with the United States Congressand with other advocacy groups to move forwarda law called the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.And this law was actually the first law

    • 16:45

      MARY GATTA [continued]: that President Barack Obama signed into legislation.And this law basically reinstated or reversedthe Supreme Court decision.And it adopted what they called a paycheck accrualrule, meaning making it very clearthat pay discrimination accrues whenever a discriminatory pay

    • 17:07

      MARY GATTA [continued]: decision or practice is adopted, not justwithin 180 days of a very first discriminatory paycheck.So what did the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act do?One thing it did is it increased voluntary compliance.People were not stuck with that 180-day window.So if they felt they were being paid unfairly,they could deal with it internally

    • 17:29

      MARY GATTA [continued]: in their organization, as opposedto moving forward a claim.It also did not penalize workers if they didn't initiallyknow that they were being paid discriminatorily.It made that window larger, because often, we don'tknow in those first paychecks.It also allowed for time for proper evaluationand confirmation of the discrimination.

    • 17:50

      MARY GATTA [continued]: It gave more than that 180-day window.And perhaps more importantly, it justreinstated an existing law, that lawthat the Supreme Court had overturned.It restored a longstanding law that men and women shouldbe paid equally, and would have the time to evaluate that.So knowing this, what are some questions

    • 18:13

      MARY GATTA [continued]: that we can focus on when we think about the Fair Pay Act?Do you feel that you have ever been paid unfairlybecause of your gender?How did you identify that you were being paid unfairly?What did you do about it, if anything?So why do you think the pay gap exists?And why do you think the pay gap has not closed?

    • 18:34

      MARY GATTA [continued]: And since it has not closed, when do youthink we will be at a point where men and women are earningequal pay?[MUSIC PLAYING]

Gender Pay Gap

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Abstract

Dr. Mary Gatta introduces the concept of the gender pay gap and explains how sociologists calculate the gap. She presents competing explanations for the gap, critiquing the weaknesses of each. Gatta also highlights the history of wage discrimination through the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and discusses how race and gender intersect in wage inequality.

SAGE Video Cases
Gender Pay Gap

Dr. Mary Gatta introduces the concept of the gender pay gap and explains how sociologists calculate the gap. She presents competing explanations for the gap, critiquing the weaknesses of each. Gatta also highlights the history of wage discrimination through the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and discusses how race and gender intersect in wage inequality.

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