Women Need Equal Opportunities for Job Advancement
The new Act to Establish Pay Equity in Massachusetts is similar to voluntary moves by Google and other companies that have changed their hiring policies to base a salary offer on the market rate of the job, not on previous compensation.
The Massachusetts law also improves pay transparency by forbidding employers from discouraging workers to compare notes on their salaries.
Both of these requirements should help equalize pay for women and men doing similar work, but while this effort is both needed and welcome, don’t expect it to end the gender wage gap on its own.
Across the economy, despite decades of female progress in entering higher-paying jobs formerly done almost exclusively by men, about 40 percent of women and 50 percent of men still work in occupations that are dominated by their own gender. Typically, in smaller segments of the economy — such as within a single firm or field — sex segregation among occupations is even greater. Different entry level jobs go disproportionately to men and women. For example, a Home Depot in Southern California settled with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance in 2015, including a back pay award, because it had typically assigned women to roles as cashiers and men to roles as sales associates — a higher paying job with more upward mobility.