Study shows widening gender pay gap

By: Jonathan Martin Email
By: Jonathan Martin Email

April 24, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---A new study shows women earn less than their male colleagues for the same work, and the pay gap gets wider as the years go by.

But why is this the case, and is it an issue for working women in our area?

Even with the same qualifications, boys usually make the bigger bucks, according to a recent study by the American Association of University Women. To some, that's surprising...to others, not so much.

But no one has a clear reason why.

As vice chairman of the First Bank of Georgia, Pat Blanchard oversees a staff of nearly 200 men and women, many doing the same job. Despite gender differences, he says you won't find a big difference in their salaries.

"All of that is based on their experience and how equipped they are, so it makes no difference whether they are a man or woman," he said.

But many employers don't operate that way, according to a new study that finds that just one year out of college, women working full time earn only 80 percent of what their male colleagues in the same field make, and after ten years the gap widens to just 69 percent.

"It's stereotypes," said Tara Dubkowski of Augusta. "Men have always been the boss, and we still haven't gotten away from that yet."

Researchers and those we talked to seemed to agree on one big reason for the pay inequity.

"I think it has a lot to do with the fact that women are the ones that have children, and they expect that you are going go on maternity leave and not come back," Michelle Greene of Augusta said.

When it comes to city workers, Augusta employment manager Moses McCauley says you won't see a gap, because salaries are set.

"Our salaries are controlled by the Commission," he said. "Any increase or change in job description that elevates a position, it has to show Commission approval."

After considering a list of factors, researchers have no clear explanation for the pay gap.

But for some women, the thought that they are paid less because they could potentially become mothers doesn't seem fair.

"There are a lot of us out there that are single, and we choose to be that way, but we still don't make what the men do," said Amanda Long of Augusta.

The research also shows this pay gap exists despite the fact that women outperform men in school, earning slightly higher GPAs in every college major--including science and math.

The professions with the largest pay gaps are doctors, nurses, and teachers.

To view the American Association of University Women's study and other materials, click here.

For statistics and other data about women in the United States, click here.

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