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U.S. Gender Pay Gap on Track to Close (but Not Until 2070)

By Daniel B. Kline – Updated Apr 16, 2019 at 10:06AM

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A new report from Glassdoor does show that some progress has been made.

Men get paid more than women for doing the same work. That's a problem, and it's not one unique to the United States. In fact, men earn more money than women in all eight countries examined as part of Glassdoor's Progress on the Gender Pay Gap: 2019 report.

The study examined wages in the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Australia -- the countries examined in the initial study in 2016 -- while the new report adds data on Canada, the Netherlands, and Singapore. Glassdoor built the study from "hundreds of thousands of salary reports, including worker and job information, shared voluntarily and anonymously by employees" on its platform.

"Men earn more than women on average in all eight countries we studied, even after applying statistical controls for worker and job characteristics to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison," wrote Glassdoor's co-authors Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Daniel Zhao, and Amanda Stansell. "Even though women do not receive equal pay for equal work yet, progress is slowly being made; the pay gap has narrowed since our last study in 2016. A tighter labor market, higher labor force participation by women and greater awareness of the gender pay gap all likely contribute to a shrinking pay gap."

A chart shows the U.S. gender pay gap.

Image source: Glassdoor.

It's closing slowly in the U.S.

In the U.S., while the pay gap has narrowed, the chart above shows that if things continue at their current pace, the adjusted gender pay gap won't fully close until 2070. The 2019 report examined 425,000 salaries shared by workers employed full time in the U.S. It found that men earn an average of 21.4% higher base pay than women (or women earn $0.79 per dollar men earn).

There is, however, a little bit more good news in the report. When you compare "workers of similar age, education, and experience," the gap shrinks to 19.1%. And if you only compare employees with the same job title, employer, and location, the gender pay gap in the U.S. drops to 4.9% -- that is, women make $0.951 for every dollar a man makes.

"We find a similar pattern in all eight countries we examined: a large overall or 'unadjusted' gender pay gap, which shrinks to a smaller 'adjusted' pay gap once statistical controls are added," the report's authors wrote.

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A "male" symbol next to a large stack of coins and a "female" symbol next to a smaller stack of coins, with a "not equal" symbol between them.

Women are still paid less than men, but the numbers have improved. Image source: Getty Images.

Why is there still a gap?

The Glassdoor report showed that some of the gender pay gap may come from what it called a "salary confidence gap" -- that is, men are more likely to apply for jobs with higher starting salaries.

"We found that men applied to jobs with base salaries that are, on average, $13,635 higher, or a gap of 18.3%, mostly due to the same occupational sorting differences that were also found to be a leading contributor to the overall gender pay gap," according to the study. "However, when comparing job application data by similarly qualified men and women, the adjusted 'salary confidence gap' drops to less than one percent (0.7%), showing virtually no difference between men and women's salary expectations when applying to jobs."

The gap is narrowing, but it's not gone. Closing it completely will require companies to be vigilant in their hiring and compensation practices and, in many cases, to find ways to attract qualified applicants who may not have applied through a traditional job posting.

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