The Gender Pay Gap: Why Has It Not Moved in 20 Years?
The Gender Pay Gap: Why Has It Not Moved in 20 Years?

The Gender Pay Gap: Why Has It Not Moved in 20 Years?

The gender pay gap seemed to be headed in the right direction. According to the Pew Research Center analysis, the gap improved from 65 cents on the dollar to 80 cents from 1982-2002. But, in 2022, women were making 82 percent of what a man was making. That’s only a two percent increase in the last 20 years. So, what happened?

There is not one exact reason why the gap in pay between male and female workers has not changed much in two decades. There are, however, multiply factors.

Occupational Segregation

About two-thirds of women are in low-wage jobs, even though they make up almost half of the workforce. Some of these jobs pay as low as the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. There are certain occupations that have and are still occupied predominantly by women. And, these jobs tend to have lower salaries.

Tackling occupational segregation will help lesson the pay gap. One way is to provide career guidance at a younger age. Some women ‘fall into’ the typical women roll, like administrator, teacher, care-giver, not knowing all of their options. Better guidance may provide a wider range of career options. Another way to help with occupational segregation is to offer more training at a younger age. Exposing girls and young women to STEM training and other technical training may help them obtain higher paying jobs.

Work-Life Balance

A lot of working women struggle with balancing kids and work. In most households, a woman is still the primary caretaker. Some women with children drop out of the workforce all together once they have children because of an awful or nonexistent maternity leave policy. Maternity leave laws and policies have made strides in the last 20 years, but are not where they should be. Allowing more time off for a woman to heal and bond with a newborn may keep more women in the workforce.

Or, their employer is not open to a more flexible schedule. If it does not interfere with productivity, allowing women a more flexible work schedule may help them to stay in demanding higher paying jobs and help with career progression.


A lot of discrimination in the office happens to come from an unconscious bias. The employer does not even know they are doing it. This happens a lot in the hiring process, during performance evaluations and choosing an employee for a promotion. The best way to eliminate this type of discrimination is better training. Employers should better train their managers on how to detect unconscious biases in the workplace.

Wage Discussions

Keeping the wage conversation open is a great way to help with the gender pay gap. Employees are usually cautious when discussing their salary at work. An employee’s right to discuss wages is now protected by law. Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), employees have the right to discuss their salary with other employees. Discussing wages in an office or even an industry can help women’s pay. Having an open conversation will help to keep employers from paying a women less than a man in the same position as they may fear discrimination claims.

While improving the gender pay gap has come a long way, it still has a ways to go. Equality in the workplace will require the collaboration of employees, employers and policy makers. Women are now almost half of the workforce and paying attention to and correcting the inequalities will only make a company better.

DisclaimerThis article is intended for informational purposes only. It provides general information and is not intended and should not be construed as professional advice. The author is not your attorney, accountant, financial planner or any other professional and no professional-client relationship is created. We do not represent that the information provided is accurate or up-to-date as laws and regulations are always changing. If you have an issue that requires professional help, you should contact the appropriate professional to help you on your specific set of facts. Please read the Terms and Conditions for additional information.

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