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Women & the Economy

Background and Talking Points

Women has been accepted by society as capable of working and studying in professions that were once considered men tasks such as engineering, science, and medicine. Many other careers and occupations were also forbidden to women, and her major devotion was to take care of the family and house, shores such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, sewing were a necessity that women in the house had to provide for the family. Today is different because industries has grown and times have changed, women are no longer as necessary for working on house shores as before, and family members now contribute to help in the house. Women have now time to focus on education and self development, as professionals and individuals. However, not everyone recognize the work of women, in the U.S. women are the lowest paid workers, and they still have been struggling to make they work valuable for competitive industries in which men used to be the leaders. We review in this page how women is doing as part of the U.S. economy, how the gender wage gap affect women, and the reasons behind the wage gap.

Total Employment
The U.S. the labor force is composed of both men and women, from 16 years old and older, 70.2 million women and 81.3 percent men made up the total civilian labor force in 2006, totaled 151.4 million work force for the year. The percentages for men and women in the U.S. labor force for the year 2006 are quite equitable as a whole representation of the work force, though is not the same with wages. Women represent 46.3 percent of the total civilian labor force.

* The Actual number of women who were employed in the year 2006 was 66,925,000 compared to 77,502,000 men

Full Time Vs Part Time
25 million Americans work on part times jobs, and it is important to mention that 16.5 million
(two thirds) from all part time workers in the U.S. are women. (see graph Below).
● 75.3 percent of employed women (66,925,000) worked full time. = 50,380,000 women working full time.
● 24.7 percent of employed women (66,925,000) worked part time. = 16,545,000 women working part time.
● 89.4 percent of employed men (77,502,000) worked full time. = 69,307,000 men working full time.
● 10.6 percent of employed men (77,502,00)worked part time. = 8,194,000 men working part time.

Women Occupations
Below are the five more prevalent occupations for women who worked full time during year 2006.

- Secretaries and administrative assistants (3,348,000)
- Registered nurses (2,309,000)
- Cashiers (2,291,000)
- Elementary and middle school teachers (2,220,000)
- Retail salespersons (1,740,000)

The top five occupations for women who worked full time and had the highest median weekly earnings,
were:

- Pharmacists ($1,564)
- Chief executives ($1, 422)
- Lawyers ($1,333)
- Computer and information systems managers ($1,330)
- Physicians and surgeons ($1,329)
Self-employed workers (2006)
- 3.5 million women
- 5.5 million men

Total Earnings
Median yearly earnings for full-time workers in year 2005, were:
- $32,168 for women. (which is less than 77% of what men earned)
- $41,965 for men.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings, January 1997 and 2007.

- Wage Gap for Women of Color and Minorities
Wage gap is wider for women of color as well as for other minorities in the U.S. such as Latinas. An article by the National Organization of Women (NOW), stated that women had to work an extra 114 to keep pace with men. The article also showed that Women are paid 77 cent per every dollar that men make. and it's lower for women of color being 71 cents per dollar and even lower for Latinas which make 58 cents for each dollar men earn.

Most women struggle trying to make their income stretch so they can pay for all their basic needs. However statistics have shown that it is even more difficult for women of color and other minorities who are not earning what they should be making. Women of color had the highest unemployment rate during year 2006, this was 8.4%, which is 3.3% higher than the average unemployment for women 5.1%. This is due to discrimination in the work place, it is hard to believe that still after many years women, and people of color are still being prejudiced by today society.

- History of the wage gap
The wage gap exists because of the history and background of American culture and society, women and people of color did not have civil rights, and they were not allowed to participate in political and business activities. Because most women and people of color were not able to have the same education as white men, the jobs that were available to women and people of color were low paid jobs because most of them didn't require any level of education. Today more than half of all women hold clerical and service jobs. Part of the wage gap is credited to differences in education, experience and time in the workforce. However, a great part of the wage gap cannot be explained by these factors, but discrimination. Most low paid jobs are predominated by women or people of color. The history of the wage gap started with discrimination against women and people of color, and it's still present in today's society, we haven't completely understood human rights as being the same for everyone despite, gender, race, religion, etc.

- National movement for pay equity today
Pay equity is a growing national movement that is fighting against discrimination on sex and race. Equal payment rights for every citizen must be enforced and employers must not underpay a worker's job because a women or a person of color is doing the work. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits unequal pay for equal work performed by men and women. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits wage discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion or national origin. In 1981, the Supreme Court made it clear that Title VII is broader than the Equal Pay Act, and prohibits wage discrimination even when the jobs are not identical. However, wage discrimination laws are poorly enforced and cases are extremely difficult to prove and win. In the last few years, pay equity bills have been introduced in more than 25 legislatures, and The Paycheck Fairness Act would amend the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to provide more effective remedies to workers who are not being paid equal wages for doing equal work.

Important: If you are a victim of discrimination, and you are being underpaid, you can get more information and advice on how to manage the situation by calling the following numbers:

* The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at 800-669-4000
* The Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) Advice and Counseling Hotline at 800-839-4372


 


Background and Talking Points

Vermont Job Gap Study, Phase 8

Pay Equity and Gender in Vermont

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