Average Salaries Show There’s Still A Substantial Gap In Pay Between Sexes

OPINION By Dan K. Thomasson McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

WASHINGTON

With the prospect that one of their sex will occupy the Oval Office for the first time in history, women are bound to feel optimistic about achieving an equality with men they continue to be denied in the nation's commerce.

But should they?

According to the Associated Press and any number of organizations that measure such things, women still trail their opposite sex badly in pay and position and influence and that probably will take some time to change despite the likelihood of one of their own in the White House.

In fact, the gap between the sexes in pay and advancement in two of the most important endeavors, technology and finance, remains substantial.

For instance a recent study by the American Institute for Economic research reveals that women in computer technology earn an average of $6,358 a year less than men.

And the penalty for also being a mom amounts to more than $11,000. Add that to the fact that female engineers a year after graduation earn 88 percent of what their male counterparts are paid and the picture is bleak.

The American Association of University Women, according to the AP, reports that women in computers and information sciences earn 77 percent of what men do with the same degree. That figure is based on a study of 15,000 graduates by the U.S. Department of Education.

Clearly women have made strides in politics, winning election to Congress as never before and with the prospect of increasing their numbers during next month's election.

But being given a voice in running the nation doesn't seem to carry over to increased numbers in the leading technological companies whose diversity figures reveal that women comprise less than one third of their workforce. At Microsoft, the AP says, women hold down only 29 percent of the jobs.

And it seems that while some women have managed to make it to the top in the I.T. and social media networks, their overall participation is low.

The AP noted that Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has been a leading voice in championing workplace advancement for her sisters, yet her "sisters" make up only 31 percent of Facebook's total workers and only 15 percent of its technology employees, mainly engineers.

The pay gap is even larger it seems in the financial services industry where women earn a whopping $14,000 plus a year less than men. And judging by figures from the American Institute for Economic Research, it pays to remain single. Brides, the Institute reports, make $16,491 less than single women and all men.

There are some areas in financial services where the number of women employees actually is declining. Since 1999, a Babson College survey shows, the number of women in venture capital firms has declined from 10 percent to 6 percent.

All this leads to conjecture whether the election of a woman to the top of the U.S. government either in the next presidential election or in one in the next decade will help women achieve what they have sought since suffrage gave them the vote and economic necessities forced many from total home emersion. Or as one of my female acquaintances put it, will the Congress enact a pay cut for Madame President whoever she might be.

Obviously, six years ago when Barack Obama came out of nowhere to defeat front running Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, voters decided that it wanted an African American chief executive before a female one even one with far more experience than Obama.

Many of those who felt that way appear to have decided it was a mistake if the polls are correct.

With Clinton now very much in the forefront of speculation once again, the odds seem to favor the glass ceiling against a woman achieving such a goal finally crashing down.

Whether that translates into improved opportunities for females in the workplace generally is anyone's guess. As the statistics reveal, the gaps in crucial areas remain large despite increasing demands for diversity. Women count for an ever larger presence in law and medicine where their numbers in training for these professions exceed men.

Hopefully, the idea of equal pay for equal work will take hold in the financial and technological world specifically and in the nation's workforce generally.

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