By Jill Cowan
The Dallas Morning News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new report reveals that even as women across the globe have felt empowered to speak up about workplace barriers like sexual harassment and pay disparities, Texas women have a long way to go before they’re treated equally in the workforce.
The Dallas Morning News
Women in the Texas counties of Collin and Denton earn more than their counterparts in Dallas County, but they’re facing bigger gaps in pay compared to men, a new report says.
The report, released Thursday by the Dallas Women’s Foundation along with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, also found that in Texas, women may have to wait until 2049 for equal pay.
However, the study found that if they were paid the same wage as men for comparable jobs, poverty among working women, especially single mothers, could be reduced by what foundation president and CEO Roslyn Dawson Thompson described as a “shocking” degree, more than half.
The new data highlights that even as women across the globe have felt empowered to speak up about workplace barriers like sexual harassment and pay disparities, Texas women have a long way to go before they’re treated equally in the workforce.
“We have a state that’s booming with opportunity in many areas,” Dawson Thompson, said. “So it’s very difficult to countenance why women are being left behind.”
In Dallas County, median annual pay for women who were 16 and older working full-time, year-round was $37,511 compared with $50,691 in Collin County and $46,362 in Denton County.
But in Dallas County, that stacked up to almost 93 percent of what men earned, compared to just about 70 percent in Collin County and a little more than 76 percent in Denton County.
Nationally, women make 80 cents to men’s dollar.
Dawson Thompson said that it’s tough to pinpoint why the pay gap in Collin County is so much wider than it is in Dallas; the study didn’t include more specific information about the reasons women are paid less in the North Texas counties it covered.
Nevertheless, she said, the finding raises questions.
“Is it because women in Denton and Collin County may be electing to work in lower paid positions, like teachers, in order to have the flexibility to stay at home with children?” Dawson Thompson said.
Collin County in particular has a higher concentration of corporate and management jobs, especially as regional leaders work to reel in big white collar employers.
But while the jobs, on average, tend to pay well, experts say there are hurdles for women as they move toward the upper echelons of the corporate ladder, and the highest paying jobs.
Still, experts say that pay gaps between men and women on a broad level can often be traced back to differences in the kinds of jobs women and men work. If you work a lower-paid, hourly-wage job, you’re less likely to get benefits like parental leave or health care, benefits that allow you to be your most productive.
The kinds of jobs available to you are, of course, affected by education levels, which are affected by access to education, which is affected by where you grow up.
As a result, experts have said, Hispanic women and black women are disproportionately hurt by pay inequity.
The new report found that Hispanic women in Dallas County are paid just 38 cents for each dollar white men are paid. Just about 19 percent work managerial and professional jobs, compared with 54 percent of white women.
This isn’t just bad news for women of color, or women in general. It’s bad news for the overall economy, experts have said repeatedly.
A 2016 report by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. said that if gaps between women and men in the labor force were narrowed at a rate that fits historical trends, the Dallas area could see a $60 billion jolt to its economy over the next 10 years, or 9 percent of the region’s 2025 gross domestic product.
Across Texas, that would be a $202 billion boost.
Dawson Thompson said one statistic from the most recent report made a forceful case that the pay gap needs closing.
If Texas women were paid the same as men, their annual earnings would, on average, increase by $7,300, enough to reduce the poverty rate among women by 51 percent.
Not only would that be better for the women not living in poverty, Dawson Thompson said, it would reduce the strain on social safety nets, in other words, the things that cost money for taxpayers.
“Our purpose in raising these issues is there is a world of opportunity in investment in the stability of Texas women and families that’s going to pay out in Texas over the long haul,” she said.