The pay gap between women and men in Ohio has grown as the economy recovered from a deep recession and unemployment declined, according to the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The median weekly earnings for Ohio men in 2014 were $846, compared with Ohio women’s $663. The 21.6 percent wage gap is wider from the 17 percent it was in 2012 and 2013. Nationally, the gap has been hovering around 20 percent over the past 10 years and reached 17.5 percent in 2014.
Ohio tends to be different from the nation because it has a very large manufacturing presence that relatively favors men over women, said Bruce Weinberg, professor of economics at the Ohio State University.
“That [manufacturing industry] was hit very hard in the Great Recession,” Weinberg said. “Some people refer to the recession as the ‘mancession.’ So the recovery from the ‘mancession’ could be more favorable to men than to women, especially in a state that has more manufacturing jobs than the national average.”
The annual employment status from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women’s unemployment rate in Ohio has been consistently lower than men. In 2009, 8.6 percent of women were unemployed, compared with 11.8 percent unemployment rate for men. The gender unemployment gap has narrowed in recent years to 0.7 percent in 2014, with 5.2 percent of women unemployed and 5.9 percent of men.
More women are in jobs that pay minimum wage or less. Among the 3 million workers in the country with wages at or below the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour, 62.8 percent were women in 2014.
Data from the Labor Department shows that the wage gap is most pronounced among higher-paying occupations. In 2015, women with legal occupations had a median weekly salary of $1,135, $742 less than men in the same field. There was a $387 gender wage gap in management, professional and related occupations, and a $281 wage difference in health care practitioners and technical occupations.
Weinberg said that with high-skilled professions, the gender wage gap opens up over time as people accumulate experience and longer working histories. “You see a much smaller gap right after people leave school,” Weinberg said. “Before having family, people tend to treat men and women the same. After people have their families, either you discriminate against the women who have children, or some share of the women with children shifted to different types of work or less competitive field.”
Women’s workforce interruptions and shorter working hours resulting from child care obligation and maternal leave are the decisive factors of the gender wage gap in high skilled occupations, according to a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research that analyzes wage data from 1980 to 2010.
M. Geneva Murray, director of the Women’s Center at Ohio University, said research found that even if men and women work the same profession for the same hours, there’s still a 7 percent gap that remains unexplained, which could be sexism in the workplace.
Murray believes there’s the issue of stereotype at play. “Women want to take more time off of work because of child care issues, therefore, why should we give them the promotion when there’s someone else who’s willing to forfeit that time with their family?” she said.
“Also, we often don’t encourage women to be demanding in the workforce. Women are less likely to negotiate for better salary when compared to the male peers,” Murray said.
When looking at a household, one can find the gender roles are also influencing the wage gap — husbands being the primary earners and wives being the secondary earners. According to a recent study from University of Chicago, the social norm of “a man should earn more than his wife” has proven to be reality. “In couples where the wife’s potential income is likely to exceed the husband’s, the wife is less likely to be in the labor force and earns less than her potential if she does work,” the study found.