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Why Do Women Make Less Than Men?

Photo Courtesy of: Ameerah Lewis
Photo Courtesy of: Ameerah Lewis
Why Do Women Make Less Than Men?
California working women make on average $8,300 less per year than men. This costs California women about $37 billion annually. The Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963 to prohibit discrimination on account of sex in the payment of wages by employers. In passing the bill, Congress denounced sexual discrimination in the workplace. It has been 48 years since the law was enacted. Many women are supporting a new equal pay act called the Paycheck Fairness Act, which passed in the U.S. House but fell short in the Senate. This would close loopholes in the old act to ensure that women aren't underpaid. We are going to discuss the current equal pay rules as well as the struggle women are facing, and the ways that women are trying to gain equality.

California working women make on average $8,300 less per year than men. This costs California women about $37 billion annually. The Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963 to prohibit discrimination on account of sex in the payment of wages by employers. In passing the bill, Congress denounced sexual discrimination in the workplace. It has been 48 years since the law was enacted.

Many women are supporting a new equal pay act called the Paycheck Fairness Act, which passed in the U.S. House but fell short in the Senate. This would close loopholes in the old act to ensure that women aren't underpaid. We are going to discuss the current equal pay rules as well as the struggle women are facing, and the ways that women are trying to gain equality.



Dr. Doreen Mattingly, Associate Professor at SDSU, Department of Women's Studies

Eunis Christensen, President of the AAUW San Diego Branch (American Association of University Women).

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This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. In the recent economic downturn, much has been made of the fact that more men lost jocks than women. The results of a recent study my help explain that disparity, it seems women still get paid less than men for doing the same work. The study found that California working women make more than $8,000 less per year than men. These under paid women may still have jobs but they are also still struggling with smaller salaries. I'd like to welcome my guests. Dr. Doreen Mattingly is associate professor at SDSU' department of women's studies. Dr. Mattingly, Doreen, welcome.

MATTINGLY: Good morning.


CAVANAUGH: Good morning. And Eunis Christensen is president of the American Association of University women, the San Diego branch, and Eunis, good morning.

CHRISTENSEN: Good morning to you, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: Now, I'd like to invite our listeners to join the conversation. Are you a victim of the pay gap? Give us a call about it, 1-888-895-5727. That's 1-888-895-KPBS. Eunis, tell us what this study that was coauthored by your organization found out about the gender pay gap in California.

CHRISTENSEN: Well, the American Association of the university of women has coauthered national studies, but not the California study. I just want to clarify that. But they have found that nationwide, the paygap is 77 cents per dollar than a man make, and that's a median number which is the midpoint of all women to all men. The California is a little higher, it's actually just under 83 percent, rather than 77 percent, but it's still something to curl your hair, so to speak. If you're bring home less, that's less rent, that's less food, some of the data indicate the 7 more months of rent the available equivalent amount that a male in the same job were to make.

CAVANAUGH: That was my question. Are these studies basically based on the same jobs or similar jobs? I think there's sometimes the idea that men and women report represented fully in the same types of jobs, so they sort of use a comparative analysis, but is this the same work we're talking about, Eunis?

CHRISTENSEN: The $0.77 on the dollar is all working women to all working men.


CHRISTENSEN: There are some breakdowns by population, the Latinas make less, they make least of all, and then the African American women are a little higher than that. And they will also put them against the total approximation, at least that's what our data say. And the latest data that we have used come from the census report issued by the census bureau for women's history month. So this was did national data.

CAVANAUGH: And doctor Mattingly, Doreen, tell us a little bit more about how these comparisons are made in these.

MATTINGLY: As Eunis said, these tend to be aggregate comparisons of full time year round you workers, so it's really looking at the money that people take home. You're absolutely right that a large factor is that men and women tend to work in different occupations. So it's a more complicated problem than simply discrimination within job categories, although that is part of it. There's also a more cultural question or institutional question of why do men and women with similar kinds of education make different eargins. So why do preschool teachers make so much less than plumbers? Why do elementary school teachers make so much less than other people, than men, maybe engineers or computer program ares, comparably educated? So there are a number of different factors, the way we value different kinds of work, and then within occupations, discrimination or glass ceilings that keep women from being promoted as quick leap as men might be.

CAVANAUGH: So these are some of the reasons why on average women are getting paid less than men for relatively the same work, but it doesn't really answer why this is still happening after this has been identified for such a very long time. Do we have any answers to that question, Doreen?

MATTINGLY: Which can be regulated. Part of it, and so for example, a component of it is the stitions that households make about caring for their children. Women are more likely to take breaks and to choose jobs that allow them to take breaks to care for their children. And so it's tied in then to government support for child care. How much does child care cost? Why does that trade off look like? So I think it isn't Amoanable to an easy fix, because it touches on so many other areas of life. But thats, discriminations still exist partly because of the we that the antidescription lays worry written that makes it difficult to enforce them, because you center to sue, and you have to show intent. And it is actually a process that most working women aren't in a position to take on.

CAVANAUGH: We're talking about the pay gap across the kitchen, and especially here in California. There was just recently a new report that found out that pay gaps still exist. And was really rather significant. Give us your calls if you're a victim of the pay gay. 1-888-895-5727 is the number to call. Right now on the line, Alexander in El Cajon. Hi, Alexander, and welcome to these days.

NEW SPEAKER: This is an issue that I'm really interested in. And one of the things that has always within really shocking to me is that while a lot of time gets spent on the pay gap, if you look at the gender gap by property ownership, it's even more shocking. The numbers that I most recently saw was something in the 90 conspiracy of property is owned by men. When look at that, that number, as sort of confidentialinging as, you know, short closing of the income gap might be, is it really under scores how far we have to go and how big of a deal it still is, economically.

CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you, Alexander, thank you for pointing that out. I'd like to get your intersection, dooreen, first of all, is that a consequence of the paygap or is that deeper, that gap between property? Is that another deep cultural issue?

MATTINGLY: I think it's both. Of course it's party a consequence of the pay gap because the numbers we're talking about today, are not as bad as they were issue even 10, or 20 years ago. And so there's a legacy of less pay, and less women who are in the labor force and not being able to purchase property in their own name. But there's a cultural component as well, in terms of the way that families view property ownership, and that male property ownership might be seen as ownership for the whole family, when, in account, should the family break up in some way, that may not be the case.

CAVANAUGH: And yes, go ahead, Eunis, I'm sorry.

RIH1: It's a confidence issue also in regard to women. That, A, there's a risking owning or I don't understand what's going on. So there's some financial literacy that needs to happen. An ownership there that needs to occur from the beginning from when you're in school, yes, I understand money, I understand property, I can handle this, I can run it just as well or even more effectively as the man sitting next to me, and again, that comes back to a cultural issue. And we need to self empower by learning that mine is our friend.

CAVANAUGH: We, we're talking specifically about this report that came out for California identifying an existing pay gap, a continuing pay began between many and women. But Doreen, are there some countries that don't have this problem?

MATTINGLY: The smallest pay gap is in Scandinavian countries. And I don't know the current numbers this year. But a lot of that has to do with the Scandinavian culture and laws that favor equal parenting and that support working parents through subsidized childcare, very generous maternity and paternity leave, and other kinds of family support system, because motherhood, particularly, plays a negative role on women's earnings. I think Scandinavian can also have more equality cult really. Soap independent of laws. There's also a kind of gender law structure, and that plays a role in all the ways that cultures influence the wage gap.

CAVANAUGH: That's fascinating. And Eunis, you were saying that you mentioned the fact that it's not just gender, but it's also sometimes influenced by ethnicity as well, the pay gap gets larger when you're speaking about women of color; is that right?

CHRISTENSEN: Right, and the data differ when it's been 63 percent, the other 60 percent, against an aggregate definite the male population as a whole, not A can American women to African American men, but to the whole body of workers, and the Latinas are even less at 57 percent, and other data says 54 percent. And I think it's the cultural impact, the Latinas are still very much in the home, or different expectations again, I'm just speaking generally.

CAVANAUGH: And Doreen?

MATTINGLY: Well, there are a couple of issues going on. One is that men and women of color tend to make less than their Anglo counterparts. And that has to do with a lot of factors, the wage gap if you compare Latino men and Latina women is smaller, because they both tend to be in it low wage occupations of the largest earning gap is in high earning households. Is that the salaries of working class men, of but collar men have gone down. That's been the most significant reason for the reduction in the wage gap. So among households where everybody's working, and a -- let's say a nonprofessional job, there's a much smaller wage gap because wages have declined, blue collar men's wages have gone down. The largest wage gap is actually in households where both partners are educated.

CAVANAUGH: We're talking any the gender pay gap in California and across the country, and we're talking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. My guests are dR. Doreen Mattingly, she is associated prefessor in women's studies at SDSU, and Eunis Christensen is president of the San Diego branch of the American association of university women. And that be in again, 1-888-895-5727. Mayor gold is on the line from City Heights. Good morning, mayor gold, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning, thank you for tabling my car. I don't know how old your guests are, but I'm 62, and I graduated from State in 69, and I'm so disappointed because I think at that time it was 80 cents to the dollar. What I would like to know is where are the young women? And I don't mean this happen as an indictment, but we were all active for birth control and other things, and it seems like we need help with the young energy and the young women to get this to change, and I don't know where they are or how to reach them.

CAVANAUGH: Well, let's get some feedback on that, Marigold. Thank you for the question. Where are the young women on this? This a feeling, Eunis, that that's -- beyond the scope, that this is something that's been over come and there's no nor activism needed.

CHRISTENSEN: It hasn't been over come. I think their lives are so much busier than coming up traditionally, say, 40 years ago. I do know that there is still information that needs to happen and there is awareness that needs to happen. And there is awareness that needs to happen. AAUW was partnered with a program called Wage Project. We actually have done a program here at San Diego state also at UCSD, called Start Smart, which is a salary negotiation workshop, and how to benchmark so that young women become aware as they answer the work force, they need to speak up for what they're worth, and they need to understand how to come to that worth. So there is education to be done at that part.

CAVANAUGH: Doreen, I'm wondering, though, since there is federal legislation that prohibits gender pay discrimination, is there perhaps not a feels that this just simply can't happen anymore because it's illegal?

MATTINGLY: Well, there's definitely that felling.


MATTINGLY: Question think a lot of young women hope, way, that they're gonna be able to have it all. And I think the popular media portrays that image, that American women have it better than anybody in the world. My students are always surprised when they look at international figures. In the top twenty, but not in the top ten in those categories. And so they have come to believe that they have it, it's the west of all possible worlds of so there is some education about the reality that needs to take place. But I also want to say I find this generation of college students to be the most activist and change oriented that I've had since I've been teaching. I'm very excited by my students, particularly those students who are immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants, that these students at San Diego state are -- I think they're gonna bring a lot of change to our society. I'm very excited to be graduating them and launching them into the world.

CAVANAUGH: Let's take another call. Lisa is calling from San Marcos. Our number is 1-888-895-5727. Or you can go on-line and comment, Days. Lease is on the line, good morning, Lisa, thanks for calling.

NEW SPEAKER: Hi, good morning. Well, I kind is am with the last caller. I don't know where the professor is seeing all these forward women, but I'm 54 and I think we've really taken a back slide. And I think women are their own worst enemies. I think. -- I have two daughters, 18 and 21, I think everything is sexualized in the movies, TV, it's impossible for us to be taken seriously examine because that's all we got to show anymore. No one's working on look at my brain, you know? I'm so frustrated, I don't even know where to turn or where to teach people to empower themselves anymore. I just see a culture that's just denigrated, and I just hardly see females rising above this.

CAVANAUGH: Let me get some response. Thank you so much for your call. Eunis, women ever their own worst am in. What about that?

CHRISTENSEN: Some of that still applies. Again, it's reaching -- if you did catch a girl's attention in middle school, as to her worth, and that it's worth working hard, and going into the harder, the math and the science, whether she's going to use them or not, to catch that dynamic. But if we don't reach them at sixth through eighth grade, it's gonna perpetuate. Now, as women get older and they have families, and financial realities address them, they're gonna grow up. It's gonna become important, how much I make and my role that I play.

CAVANAUGH: But is it in in a sense, a bit too late then?

CHRISTENSEN: It's never too late.

CAVANAUGH: Okay. All right.

CHRISTENSEN: To wake up and do something about your life.

CAVANAUGH: And Doreen?

MATTINGLY: Well, I agree with the caller that it has been backsliding for years, so when I say that this crop of graduates is it the best I've seen, doesn't 19~ mean that it matches the crop of graduates in 1975 and their gender perspectives. And I agree this we're working against popular culture that sexualizes everyything to make that shift to seeing one's self in terms other than sexual appeal to other people is a radical shift. And I teach women's studies, and I gotta say, I see the most passionate young women are the ones that come to me. I don't have a random sample. And that's part of the reason I teach because it's so much more uplifting.

CAVANAUGH: Eunis, I want to go into a fact that you talked about a little bit. But we think of this pay -- the gender pay gap as being basically on principle wrong, as indeed it is. But you make the larger point, I know, of itsm pact, not only on individual women, but on families, and largely, on society itself.

CHRISTENSEN: Yes, largely it is a family issue. It's not just I woman's issue. If you come to a couple, a working couple, and the man loses his jock, all of a sudden it's very important that the wife be making as much as she can make and then it's gonna matter to him. Well,, why is the guy sitting next to you making more than you are? Then it comes home. But we don't to have to wait until a circumstance happens, whether one loses his job, and now they're extending on the wife's income. Or just -- it shouldn't matter whether a woman is married or not, or whether she has children or not, it's the value that she brings to the work place. The job itself, and that contribution. That should be the only criteria.

CAVANAUGH: And yet she does end up being head of household. Starting to support children as a success mother. Then, can of course, is that impact is only doubled if she's not making as much as she should be making.

CHRISTENSEN: Exactly, exactly.

CAVANAUGH: Let's take another call. Tom is calling us from San Diego. Good morning, Tom, and welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning.


NEW SPEAKER: My questions about these kind of studies is I always wonder how much of this comes back to what they're asking for, how aggressive they're being in negotiating and going back in, asking for raises, things like that.

CAVANAUGH: I think a lot of it does, would you agree, Eunis?


CHRISTENSEN: Yes, I'd like to speak to that. And this is one of the reasons we have the start smart association, and [CHECK] it is a learning how to ask, it is learning how to determine what you're worth and how you can pinpoint what you're asking for, in our most recent start smart that we did, which happened to have [CHECK] young men positioned themselves, they were quite willing to ask for more, to look for where the leverage was, so it's a skill that they had just inculcated in growing up, a confidence factor that the young women need it, I don't know, bring into themselves. They need to learn that and work that, and not afraid to use it.

CAVANAUGH: Let's sneak in another call, Debra from Mission Hills. Good morning, Debra, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Hi, thanks. [CHECK] the compensation group had done, and they were looking at the difference in how women and men enter the professions equally, but of course, by the time we get to the upper ranks, there's a real disparity, and they med in passing that one of the things seems to be that managers have a tendency to -- some managers, to the all best of your recollection to promoty women on performance, but men on potential. And that that leads them to the defenses in promotion, both the levels, and the [CHECK] which they get promoted so much it's interesting what y'all have to say about that.

CAVANAUGH: That's fascinating. What do you think about that Doreen?

MATTINGLY: Well, I haven't read that particular statistic, but it is in keeping with. We are all more comfortable with people who are like us, we recognize potential in people who remind us of ourselves at a younger age. And so that's it always a natural tendency to support the development of people who seem like us. When I was a young girl, I was like that. You know, you can be successful look me as well. And so there's constantly a tendency that needs to be over come for managers or leaders to promote people who they identify with. And this is one reason, I think why institutions, Mike my own institutions, San Diego state, try so hard to put [CHECK] unconscious bias toward it is people who issue similar to us. In addition to more explicit discrimination, but even if it's not spends, it still occurs buzz of the way that people are.

CAVANAUGH: We are almost out of time, but let me can you, are this other forms, are there other movements going on in Washington, other pieces of legislation that might shore up the gender discrimination laws that are already in effect in Washington? Is there any move to do anything new?

RIH1: Well, currently the paycheck credit act which did not get through the senate, in the last round it doesn't make it to the floor for discussion, which -- that the pay act did not address, when it was passed, the first bill that president Obama signed, and that is so there can be openness of salary, one woman can ask another worker what he or she is making, you can't deny that information, [CHECK] teach women, so there is legislation to bring it up, it's not big brother looking over at every little business, but it's also another way to empower women to make, again, what their job is worth?


DEFENDANT: And two other kinds of legislation at state levels, one would know for family leave, like California family leave, other states are fighting the wage gap, because it allows women to get their jobs and their pay through maternity heave, and any kind of laws that make it easier for anybody to unionize. Because there's a much smaller wage gap among unionized workers than nonunionzed workers.

CAVANAUGH: Very something. I want to thank you so much, doctor Dorren Mattingly, thank you, and doctor Eunis Christensen. Thanks so much.

CHRISTENSEN: And it's MBA, San Diego state university.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you.

CHRISTENSEN: Thank you Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: Days is where to comment, if [CHECK] and I'm sorry for the people who called in we couldn't take your calls as I say, once again, Days if you'd like to comment. Now, coming up, we'll hear about the plight of children caught up in armed conflicts around the world. That's as These Days continues here on KPBS.