Even when Connecticut men and women hold the same position, women are paid 5 percent to 10 percent less than their male counterparts, according to the results of a recent gender wage gap study.
Factors like unconscious bias, occupational segregation, and lower starting salaries for women are among the several reasons behind the gap. However, understanding the gap “is not a simple matter,” according to the report released Nov. 19.
In January, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy commissioned a task force to study the factors that contribute to the gender wage gap and make recommendation to eliminate it. Led by state commissioners Sharon Palmer of the Department of Labor and Catherine Smith of the Department of Economic and Community Development, the report recommended both the private and public sectors work to increase awareness of the gender wage gap and increase support to working women. The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women also helped contribute to the study.
“This report is a good first step, but no one is under any delusions its recommendations will solve the decades-long problem of pay inequity,” said Teresa Younger, PCSW executive director, in a statement. “There’s a lot more work to be done, and we’re glad that among the recommendations is a call for a deeper inquiry, starting with collecting unemployment insurance data on full- and part-time workers by occupation, and tracking how businesses and contractors are addressing this form of gender discrimination.”
Without controlling for factors like education, hours worked or position, the median salary for women in Connecticut is, on average, 22 percent to 24 percent less than the median salary for men, according to the report. In sales and legal occupations, the difference in pay is as large as 60 percent. Even in education, training and library occupations, where women make up 73 percent of the workforce, women are still paid 30 percent less than men.
To help eliminate the gap, authors of the report recommended companies self-audit, evaluate and correct any gender pay gaps; limit the practice of pay secrecy; and promote unconscious bias training. They also recommended the state promote jobs that offer greater economic security for women and coordinate with programs that encourage girls and minority groups to seek high-paying careers in fields normally dominated by males like technology and engineering.
In some case there is still a glass ceiling for women, slower career advancement and lower starting positions, which can contribute to lower pay, according to the report.
With more women as the sole or primary wage earners in their families, the report cautioned against the economic implications of women being paid less than men. Nearly a quarter of households headed by women, with children, fall below the federal poverty line.
“While gender wage disparity impacts women first and foremost, the ramifications can affect entire families,” Malloy said in a release. “In many families, women are the breadwinners. In others, they are the only source of income. The disparity in Connecticut is unacceptably high, and while this is a complicated issue, that cannot be an excuse for inaction. It’s time for our state to find ways to address gender wage disparity.”