The American Association of University Women (AAUW) recently published a report indicating that the pay gap, or the earning difference between men and women, is still an issue today, and often manifests in the very first paycheck a female college graduate receives. The AAUW’s October 2012 report, Graduating to a Pay Gap, women are paid about 82 cents per dollar paid to their male counterparts one year after graduating college. According to this report, after controlling for variables such as hours worked, type of occupation, college major, employment sector, and other factors associated with wages, the pay gap shrinks but does not disappear, indicating that “about one-third of the gap cannot be explained by any of the factors commonly understood to affect earnings, indicating that other factors that are more difficult to identify—and likely more difficult to measure—contribute to the pay gap” (AAUW, 2012).
Why does the pay gap matter? The pay gap can have far-reaching implications for women and their families. If women make less money over their lifetime than their male counterparts, they have more limited choices regarding where they can afford to live, what they can afford to feed their children (AAUW, 2012), and what sorts of healthcare they can afford for themselves and their loved ones.
A December 15, 2012 article in the New York Times suggests that negotiation is the key to reducing the pay gap for women. The fact that the pay gap still exists is disheartening, but it looks like the power to change the tide may be within our reach.