Is the gender pay gap narrowing?

It should not come as a surprise that a wage discrepancy exists between men and women. Research shows that women earn an average of 15 cents less per dollar than men in the same job. In recent years, however, there have been enormous efforts to bring attention to and eliminate this unfair gap. Are these efforts working? The short answer is yes.

Efforts to eliminate the gap are proving to be effective, especially among certain workers in certain industries. For instance, as this Pew Research Center article notes, the wage gap is narrowest among young adults ages 25-34.

Reasons behind the gap

There is no one answer when it comes to why there is a gap between the wages men and women earn. And some reasons are more deliberate than others.

For instance, a woman may earn less than her male counterpart if she has less training, education or work experience. However, this lack of attributes could stem from discriminatory behaviors of previous employers. As such, continuing to pay a woman less only perpetuates the cycle.

Further, women typically take more time off than men to care for others, like a new baby. This can lead to an interruption in their career that a male counterpart may not experience.

Challenges for employers

Therein lies one of the challenges for employers. When it comes to paying workers, there are numerous factors that can come into play and affect an individual's salary. While things like gender and salary history cannot be among these factors because of discrimination laws, there are other elements that could result in one person receiving lower pay than someone else.

In such cases, an employee may feel justified in filing a discrimination claim if he or she earns less than someone else. And whether an employer intended to violate employment laws or not, he or she could be facing serious consequences if there is evidence that such a violation occurred. This is why it can be crucial for employers to consult an attorney with questions or concerns about discrimination or wage practices. 

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