Gap Narrows, But Women Still Earning Less Survey Shows Women Make 5 To 15 Cents Less Per Hour Than Men Working In Similar Jobs

TUESDAY, JAN. 16, 1996

Women’s salaries are starting to catch up and, in some fields, even surpass men’s pay. But more typically, women still earn 5 cents to 15 cents less on the dollar than men working in similar jobs, according to a closely watched annual survey by Working Woman magazine.

In the survey, being released today, the magazine found the pay gap for women narrowed significantly in 1995 in some jobs, such as computer analysts, but it widened in others. For instance, women bank tellers, brokers and other financial service representatives made 55 percent what their male counterparts earned, down from 66 percent in 1994.

The survey - using figures provided by professional associations, compensation consultants, trade publications and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics - looked at 28 fields for which salaries were available by gender. It found that women typically earned 85 cents to 95 cents per man’s dollar.

“One of the big problems facing women is not that they get paid less when they have the same job with the same experience,” the article’s author, Diane Harris, said in a telephone interview. “The problem is that women are clustered in traditionally female lower-paying jobs.”

The survey found that pay inequities varied by industry and position. Women health managers at hospitals earned about $30,212 to men’s $44,200, or 68 percent. That was a decrease from 1994, when women in those positions earned 79 percent of men’s wages.

The news for women was brighter in other fields, with some women professionals earning more than their male co-workers.

For instance, a woman chief financial officer at a university or college earned $104,506, compared with her male counterpart’s $95,004, about 110 percent as much. But a woman chief executive officer at a university typically earned $138,800, to a man’s $155,500, or 89 percent.

“There are very few women who make it into those positions and those who do are highly, highly qualified,” Harris said.

Susan Mazen, a travel agent at BSC Travel in New York, agrees that experience helps. “I would say in general it’s a fairly even thing,” she said of the travel business. “When you have the experience you can command the salary.”

The Working Woman survey, however, found that women travel executives earned $30,800 to men’s $38,600, or 80 percent.

Ellen Bravo, executive director of 9to5, the National Association of Working Woman, cautioned that it can be misleading to categorize women as a homogeneous group.

“It’s true that women in higher level jobs are doing better, and we should all be proud of them, but the majority of women are not in higher-level jobs,” she said. “And for many, particularly women of color, they continue to toil in jobs that are undervalued and low paid simply because they’re done primarily by women.”

She cited figures from the National Committee for Pay Equity, which used Bureau of Labor Statistics figures to determine that as of 1994, white women earned 75 percent of the wage earned by white men; black women earned 63 percent as much as white men, and Latino women earned 56 percent as much as white men.

Harris agreed that pay equity is still a ways off.

“I was not looking to give people a rosy vision. I think the problems are somewhat different than the ones we’ve heard a lot of noise about. When we keep citing the 74 cents on the dollar picture we’re doing a disservice,” she said.

“The real problem is that women are clustered in lower paying jobs and they’re not making it in large enough numbers into upper level positions. And then when you look at comparable jobs, women still make less.”

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