Over the past several decades, female participation in the workforce has risen sharply. According to Pew Research Center, women comprise 47% of the U.S. labor force, an increase from 30% in 1950. The same report shows that women are now more likely than men to hold a bachelor’s degree (38% vs. 33%) or postgraduate degree (14% vs. 12%). However, despite increased labor force participation and educational attainment, women continue to experience lower wages than their male counterparts.
According to the latest data from the 2018 American Community Survey, women earn only 81 cents for every dollar earned by men. The median annual earnings for full-time working women is $42,238, compared to $52,004 for full-time working men. The picture was much bleaker less than 15 years ago when women earned barely three-quarters as much as men. Although the gender wage gap in the U.S. has narrowed considerably in the last few decades, the possibility of gender parity remains in the distant future.
Research shows that a variety of social and economic factors likely contribute to the pay gap. A report by Pew Research Center found that 42% of working women say they have been subjected to gender-based discrimination on the job, citing examples such as receiving less support from senior leadership, being treated as incompetent, or earning less than a man for doing the same job. The same research shows that 22% of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, compared to only 7% of men.
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