I have some news that is going to shock everyone, so please, brace yourself. Maybe hold on to your framed diploma; you know, that piece of paper that cost you a good $160,000. Here it is: Women earn less money than men.
Not so shocking after all, is it? But it should be. Because, as a new study suggests and the Huffington Post reports, this pay gap is not simply the result of women’s choices — a theory that is so often used to explain the well-acknowledged salary disparity between men and women in America. Common wisdom also tells us that the reason men as a whole earn more than women is because they choose higher-paying careers, and women tend to put family first after having children.
In order to test this hypothesis, the American Association of University Women conducted a study at a point in the subjects’ lives when these variables should not come into play: the study looked at men and women a year out of college. The findings were only slightly better than the average wage gap for America at large: Where the American Community Survey found American women make 79 cents to the male dollar, this study found recent female grads were making 82 cents to male grads’ $1.00. In other words, the average graduating woman received $35,296 while men were paid an average of $42,918.
A year after the Forward reported on how women in the Jewish communal workforce lag behind their male counterparts in pay and promotion, a new study released this week reinforces the economic discrimination against women in American Jewish communal life. “Profiling the Professionals: Who’s Serving Our Communities?” authored by Steven M. Cohen for the Berman Jewish Policy Archive demonstrates that women in Jewish communal work earn on average $28,000 a year less than men for equal work – or $20,000 a year when mitigating factors are considered. At the risk of stating the obvious, I would like to say that $28,000 is a lot of money. In Israel, that is considered a decent annual salary.
“Although women comprise about two-thirds of the professional workforce,” the report states, “their salaries, on whole, continue to lag significantly below their male counterparts. This pervasive issue remains a concern for attracting and retaining the best talent for the field.”
Economic discrimination against women is so rampant and so widely reported at this point that it’s surprising that the problem has not been redressed yet. In Israel, the problem seems to be getting worse, as women’s wages of 62 agurot for every man’s shekel has remained almost constant since the early 1980s. So the question on everyone’s minds seems to be, why aren’t women’s economic lives noticeably improving?
If Israel’s government wants to improve the economic condition of women, it can start by looking at its own payroll. According to the public sector salary report that was just released, the majority of government workers are women — 64% — and yet women’s earnings in the public sector significantly trail those of men. Haaretz reports:
The average monthly salary for women was 24% less than the average for men. The average gross pay for women stood at NIS 11,498 [$3,158] while men averaged NIS 15,060 [$4,136] a month. The report further showed that while the proportion of women in the public sector workforce is growing from year to year, so is the wage gap. The fact that men are employed in higher-ranking jobs than women only accounts for some of the discrepancy.
The gap between women’s wages and men’s wages in Israel is getting wider. According to the latest annual survey conducted by Oketz Systems, men in senior management positions in Israel are making on average 29% more than women in identical positions.
The survey results show a distinct widening of the gender gap in salaries. Last year, the gap was 26%; in 2007 the gap was 25%; in 2005, the gap stood at 23%. It exists in all levels of employment, but increases in senior management positions. The gap is 24% among CEOs, 26% among those second in command, and 41% among product managers. The widest gap of 49% is noted among marketing managers, in which men earn on average 29,480 NIS ($7,833) per month and women earn on average 19,730 NIS ($5,243) per month. Only in administrative positions does the gap all but disappear — with monthly wages of 5,270 NIS ($1,400) for men and 5,260 NIS ($1,397) for women.