Barrier to success: Wage gap holds Ohio women back
Posted September 19, 2017 in Press Releases
The gender wage gap is narrowing, but Ohio’s female workers still face significant barriers at work.
In 1979 Ohio women made 61 percent of what men made compared to 82 percent today. With a median hourly wage of $15.52, women’s inflation-adjusted wages grew by 19 percent since then. The gains have nearly as much to do with losses for men as they do with progress for women. Since 1979, men’s wages fell by 13 percent to $18.88, according to a new report by Policy Matters Ohio inern Lea Kayali.
Women should be catching up to men. They make up 48 percent of Ohio’s workforce. Women complete high school and college at slightly higher rates. But women still earn about $7,000 less for full time, year-round work. Even with the same levels of education, Ohio men earn between 21 and 36 percent more. At the median, men with high school diplomas make more than women with some college or an associate’s degree, the report shows.
“Female-dominated jobs, like childcare, often pay less than jobs dominated by men, like construction,” said Policy Matters Executive Director Amy Hanauer. “But that’s not enough to explain the difference. Men who work in industries dominated by women still make more.”
The report shows that women struggle to climb the career ladder and are underrepresented in top management roles that make important decisions about hiring, compensation and promotion. Seventeen percent of women live in poverty compared to 14 percent of men. When income inequality grows, women face more difficulties getting ahead.
Smart policies can reduce the challenges women face. Expanding Ohio’s eligibility requirements for public childcare would allow more women to work without worrying about the high cost of childcare. Raising the minimum wage would give many women a boost. In Massachusetts, female workers in the bottom 10 percent of earners make 96 percent of what their male counterparts do, thanks in part to a higher minimum wage. Unions also help. In Ohio, unionized women make 93 percent as much as male counterparts compared to 77 percent for nonunionized women.
“Ohio will work better for everyone when we ensure that the women get the same rewards from the workplace as men,” Hanauer said.