The Surprising Solution to the Equal Pay Problem

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Occupational segregation by gender contributes to a stubborn wage gap. It has kept women making less than men, per dollar, and still limits their access to well-paid jobs that don’t necessarily require higher education. According to Closing the Skills Gap: On-Ramp Occupations to Middle-Skilled Jobs for Women Workers, an Institute for Women’s Policy Research study commissioned by JPMorgan Chase & Co.:

WOMEN MAKE UP A MERE 3 PERCENT OF WORKERS IN WELL-PAID, MIDDLE-SKILL CONSTRUCTION JOBS.

The report also found that while women make up 83 percent of workers in middle-skill jobs that pay less than $30,000 a year, the number drops steeply to 36 percent for growing, middle-skill jobs that pay at least $35,000 a year, a disparity that can have significant long-term economic implications. Ariane Hegewisch, who co-authored this report as well as a prior study on occupational segregation and the gender wage gap, knows that in addition to being unfair in principle, those disparities have macro-scale economic effects. Occupational segregation, she notes, “slows down how much the economy can grow and how quickly you can respond to new opportunities. … It’s as if having occupational segregation means that the economy is under-oiled.”

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Narrow the Wage Gap through Access to Good Jobs

Half of the gender wage gap is due to women working in different occupations and sectors than men. Improving women’s access to good middle-skill jobs can help close the wage gap and improve women’s economic security.

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