Working women need one more academic degree than their male colleagues just to earn the same pay for the same work. In fact, over the course of their careers, women with bachelor’s degrees earn an eye-popping $1 million less than men with comparable credentials.
These are among the alarming conclusions of a new report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce on the wage gap, appropriately titled, “Women Can’t Win”:
Learning More, Earning Less. Despite outpacing men in educational achievement and increasingly pursing higher-paying majors in business and STEM (science, engineering, technology and mathematics), women still earn only 81 cents for every dollar earned by men. That’s up from 57 cents on the dollar four decades ago, but pay discrimination persists, even for women with advanced degrees:
- Women account for 61 percent of associates’ degrees, 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 60 percent of master’s degrees.
- However, women are only paid as much as men who one rung lower on the academic ladder—and much less than men with the same degrees. Women with associates’ degrees earn average salaries of $43,000, which is less than male high school graduates, who get $47,000.
- Women with bachelor’s degrees average $61,000, compared to $87,000 for men with the same degrees, thus exemplifying the million-dollar lifetime pay gap. For women with graduate degrees, the gap widens to $1.6 million.
Getting Ahead in a Rigged Economy. Recognizing the need for “major social and legal changes,” the report suggests a number of strategies for women to get ahead.
- Not pursuing a B.A.? Try to get an industry-based certification.
- Pick majors that pay well.
- Get one degree or more in order to have the same earnings as a man.
- Liberal arts major? Get a graduate degree.
- Drive a hard bargain for your first paycheck because it influences your career earnings.
Union Advantage. As the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reports, women with union representation earn 30 percent more than their non-union sisters.
Thanks to a provision in the new tax law, employers around the country will be making their employees an offer they’ll hope they won’t refuse: “Let’s reclassify you from an employee to an independent contractor. You’ll save on your taxes – big time.”
That’s because the new law seemingly rewards workers who become contractors. Here’s how it works: “Sole proprietors” – in other words, business owners – will be able to deduct 20 percent of their “pass-through income.” This business income is immediately “passed through” to the owners’ personal tax return.
Before you stand up and cheer – or sign up as a contractor – remember this helps the rich and hurts the rest of us.
The biggest winners will be the wealthiest 1 percent who rake in more than half of all “pass-through income.” For instance, Donald Trump owns more than 500 “yuge” “pass-through” real-estate companies.
Your boss also stands to gain because it costs less to hire contractors “as needed” than regular employees, with wages and benefits all year ‘round.
But, if you switch from worker to contractor, you will lose your healthcare, pension benefits and paid vacation days, as well as protection under federal minimum wage, unemployment insurance, workers compensation and anti-discrimination laws, as well as your right to organize and join a union.
These reasons explain why corporate interests are pushing the “gig economy” into over-drive, with contractors, part-time and temporary workers increasing by 9 million from 2005 to 2015, while workers in regular jobs declined by 400,000.
Far from creating new fulltime jobs with benefits, the new tax law will speed up “the temping of America.”
Instead of the typical showy red carpet, the #blackout at the Golden Globes this year helped shine a light that the wage gap still exists in America.
That’s how much working women earn, on average, for every dollar paid to working men. Black women earn only 63 cents for every dollar in a white man’s paycheck. Hispanic women? 54 cents.
To bridge that wage gap, the Obama Administration wrote a rule requiring companies with more than 100 employees to report how much they pay their workers, along with their gender and race.
Using that data, the federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission could detect patterns of pay discrimination – and take action, when necessary. Moreover, this transparency and accountability just might encourage some companies think twice about blatantly biased pay scales.
The rule was set to take effect this spring. But, five days before Labor Day (!?), the Trump Administration halted it. Their reason? Same as their “justifications” for cutting or gutting job safety and other worker protections: too costly for Corporate America. The Administration’s self-styled advocate for working women, Ivanka Trump, agreed.
The president of the National Women’s Law Center, Fatima Goss Graves, disagreed: “If you want to ignore pay inequities and sweep them under the rug, this Administration has your back.”
And, if you’re a working woman, this Administration just stabbed you in the back.