Study: There’s still a gender pay gap, but it’s closing

The U.S. adjusted pay gap has narrowed from 6.5% in 2011 to 4.6% in 2018, thanks to a tight labor market and more women in the workplace.

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The gender pay gap perseveres, according to Glassdoor Economic Research’s new study, “Progress on the Gender Pay Gap: 2019.”

The study focuses on the years 2016-18 and eight countries: the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Australia. It analyzes over 425,000 salary reports from their website. It’s a followup to Glassdoor’s first gender pay gap study, which covered the years 2006-15.


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There has been progress, however: The U.S. adjusted pay gap has narrowed from 6.5% in 2011 to 4.6% in 2018, thanks to a tight labor market and more women in the workplace.

Mind the gap

Men earn 21.4% higher base pay than women on average, based on 425,000 salaries shared by full-time U.S. employees on Glassdoor.

  • However, if comparing workers of similar age, education, and experience, the gap closes to 19.1%
  • And if comparing workers with the same job title, employer, and location, the gap closes further to 4.9%

How does the U.S. gender pay gap compare with other countries?

The gap is the closest in Australia, with women earning 97 centers per men’s dollar.

  • That’s followed by France and Canada, with the United States coming in fourth, with the adjusted gap at 95 cents.
  • The Netherlands comes in last, with an adjusted gap of 93 cents.

What makes up the gap?

In general, the main factors are industry, job title, age, and the difference in education and experience (although this is shrinking). Occupational and industry segregation – which is the tendency of men and women to work in jobs and industries that pay differently – is the biggest factor of the gender pay gap, by about 56.5%.

There’s also a factor called Oaxaca-Blinder Decomposition, meaning that there is some other unexplained and unobserved factor that researchers can’t see in their data.

Industries with the largest gender pay gaps

Here are the industries with the largest gender pay gap. Keep in mind that the U.S. average adjusted gender pay gap is 4.9%.

  • Media: 6.4%
  • Retail: 6.4%
  • Construction, repair, and maintenance: 6.2%
  • Oil, gas, energy, and utilities: 6.2%
  • Insurance: 5.9%

Jobs with the largest gender pay gaps

  • Pilot: 26.6 (up from 16% in 2006-15)
  • Chef: 24.6%
  • C-suite: 24%
  • Deputy manager: 17.1%
  • Branch manager: 12.8%

Interestingly, one job’s gender pay gap decreased dramatically between the 2006-15 study and 2016-18 – Computer Programmer went from an 11.6% gap to  -16.7%.

Jobs with the smallest gender pay gaps.

  • Merchandiser: -7.8%
  • Research assistant: -5.9%
  • Field services: -5.8%
  • Inventory specialist: -5.6%
  • Logistics manager: -3.0%
  • Social worker: -3.0%
  • Purchasing specialist: -2.5%
  • Military officer: -1.5%
  • Solutions specialist: -1.5%
  • Communications associate: -1.1%

5 occupations where women made the biggest leap

This chart shows shrinking gaps between the 2006-5 study and the current one. Logistics Manager made the biggest leap, from an 11.5% disadvantage to -3.0%.

What does age have to do with it?

Older workers usually experience more of a gender pay gap than younger workers, who face less discrimination entering the workforce today than their parents did. Older women may face age discrimination in the job market. And there’s the factor of having children, and possibly staying out of the job force for some time while raising them.

What will close the gap?

It depends on how good the economy is, trends in gender balances across all college majors (think more women in business and accounting, not just English), parental leave policies and other policies that help women and families, and less segregation of men and women into jobs that pay differently.

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Meanwhile, a recent survey by TSheets found that attitudes about equal pay are still behind the times:

  • 1/3 of employers surveyed – both women and men – admitted to underpaying people based on gender.
  • One in five business owners surveyed said that men and women did not always deserve equal pay.
  • Less than 2/3 of male business owners surveyed said men and women should always receive equal pay, compared to 72% of female business owners.

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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.