SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Many women needed to work until today, March 14, to earn what men made in 2022.
The national Equal Pay Day highlights the gap between what women earn as compared to men and how long it takes women to earn the same amount a man earns in one year. The day was established in 1996 by the National Committee on Equal Pay.
Overall, women earn 84 cents for every $1 a man earns, based on 2021 figures shared on March 14 by the Census Bureau. The Pew Institute said women over 16 earned 82 cents for every $1 a man earned in 2022. The gap is larger for women of color.
In South Dakota, full-time, salaried working women earned 85 cents for every $1 a man earned in a median income comparison in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Black women in South Dakota typically make 61 cents to every $1 paid to a white man, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Latino women in the state typically make 60 cents for every $1 paid to a white man.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) broke down earnings by median income for salary and wage workers. The Bureau shared 2022 data in January 2023: “Median weekly earnings for wage and salary workers who usually worked full time were $1,059. Median earnings for women were $958, or 83% of men’s earnings,” the BLS said.
South Dakota Democratic Rep. Kameron Nelson was among a group of legislators that shared efforts to close the gender pay cap with officials from the Biden Administration in Washington, D.C. on March 13. Nelson participated in a digital format and was one of 14 legislators from around the U.S.
The Democratic caucus introduced a pay transparency bill this year that stalled in committee. Nelson said the bill would have required employers to post salary ranges for open positions.
Nelson said a salary range requirement is a way to address the gender pay gap because all potential applicants know the salary range.
The Pew Institute said in 2022 that “Studies show that salary transparency—coupled with laws prohibiting companies from asking an applicant about their current or previous pay—can narrow the gender pay gap.” Transparency can also lower the pay of men and possibly, the overall pay, the Pew Institute said.
Nelson said a transparency law can benefit the employer because applicants can determine if the job pays enough before applying or being interviewed.
The other piece is to prohibit employers from asking about a candidate’s pay history which will also help close the gender pay gap, Nelson said.
If a woman has a history of being paid less than a man, that pay history could prompt the potential employer to pay a woman less than a man would have been paid, Nelson said.
The Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor this month released a brief on transparency laws and salary bans. The brief said salary history bans have been effective at reducing gender pay gaps for jobs.
Why do women earn less than men?
The reasons for lowering earnings by women are varied.
A Feb. 24, 2021, report to the Gender Policy Report at the University of Minnesota, cited discriminatory practices, particularly for women of color, play a role. Women are overrepresented in low-paying jobs and discrimination can be pushing them toward those low-paying jobs, the 2021 report said.
Both the University of Minnesota gender brief and the Woman’s Bureau March brief said that women still have a disproportionate share of caregiving responsibilities including for children. “… men are more likely than women to be willing to take a job with long and inflexible hours and receive the corresponding higher compensation,” the brief said.
“…Women are more likely than men to reduce their hours or leave the workforce to provide care, in turn, impacting their salary history,” the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau said in the March brief.
Take a look at the medical field as an example. There are more women are in medical school than men, but female doctors still earn less than men.
About 40% of female physicians said in the 2019 survey shared by Fierce Health Care they earn less than male physicians in their current practice. Less earnings started with a smaller base salary and or production bonus.
A 2022 compensation report by Physicians Thrive showed that in general, female doctors earn less than male doctors.
While the gap in pay has been attributed to males working longer hours, a report in the New England Journal of Medicine and a piece published by the American Medical Association said those are not the only reasons.
Female doctors made less revenue because of a lower volume of visits, yet spent more time in direct patient care per visit, per day, and per year, the New England Journal of Medicine report said.
The AMA cited studies that showed when experience and similar factors were compared, men still made more than women doctors.
Women are making pay progress. In 2021, the Equal Pay Day was on March 24.
The Pew Research Center said this month that women have made gains in levels of education, work experience, and in obtaining higher paying jobs that were traditionally dominated by men which have helped to close the gender pay gap.