Closing the persistent male-female pay gap

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Apr 23, 2007

SCOTT JAGOW: In Washington this morning, Congress opened a hearing on the pay gap between men and women. A study released Monday by the American Association of University Women finds the disparity begins right out of college, and only gets worse. The study’s authors are testifying before Congress in favor of legislation they say would close the gap. Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.

NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: You’d think inexperienced new college grads would be fairly equal. Still, the study shows that a year after graduation, women make 80 percent of what their male counterparts earn. Ten years later, women make just 69 percent of men’s salaries.

The study factors in occupation, parenthood and hours. But even after that, one quarter of the pay gap is still unexplained. Sylvia Allegretto is an economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

SLYVIA ALLEGRETTO: There’s many things going on that involve gender. One is there is a glass ceiling and I do believe that that’s still in play here — kind of like the old-fashioned discrimination.

The study does offer some solutions, including paid paternity leaves, which would remove the stigma of taking time off when a child is born. It also recommends that universities encourage women to major in engineering and math — fields the guys now dominate.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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