I know, I know, Tuesday was Equal Pay Day, and I didn’t say boo about it. I just let it slide. Maybe I should have gotten more excited or outraged, but I’ve been covering women’s fight for equality so long and seeing such scant progress that I’ve become kind of numb.
See if you don’t get the blues, too, after reading these recent news items about women:
1. The gender gap in pay goes on—and on—and on. According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the pay gap hasn’t budged much in 10 years, meaning that “in 2012, as in 2002, among full-time, year-round workers, women were paid 77 percent of what men were paid.”
That’s probably not news to you, but you here are some nuggets you might not know:
- Women in every state are paid less than men. The best place for women is Washington, D.C., where they made 90 percent of men’s wages. The worst place is Wyoming, where women made 64 percent of what men did. (Yo, Liz Cheney, how about running on pay equity next time?)
- The wage gap exists in nearly every occupation, and the gap is worse for women of color. (Female equity partners make 11 percent less than their male counterparts, finds National Association of Women Lawyers.)
- Older women fare worse. Women from age 35 through retirement get paid about 75–80 percent of what men do.
- Younger women do better. They get about 90 percent of what men are paid, says AAUW. (If it makes you feel better, PEW finds that millennial women make 93 percent of what their male counterparts do.)
- Better educated women are also behind—sometimes more so. “At every level of academic achievement, women’s median earnings are less than men’s earnings, and in some cases, the gender pay gap is larger at higher levels of education.”
I think the last two points are particularly puzzling. Since women have been earning more college degrees than men for about 10 years, why are they still lagging men in pay at all? And the usual excuse for women’s lower wages—that they’re hampered by child raising—would likely not apply to this younger group.
And that last point—”the gender pay gap is larger at higher levels of education”—seems to strike an ominous note for women who are in professions such as law, finance, and medicine.
As for the most depressing headline I’ve seen lately? Try this: “Gender Parity in 2029—Realistic or Optimistic?” That’s the question posed by The Glass Hammer blog about an article in The Guardian in which Chris Sullivan, a top U.K. banking chief executive, predicted the demise of gender inequality by 2029.
First, I was deflated that it would take 15 years to attain equality. But what’s worse is that Glass Hammer says Sullivan is being way too optimistic: “Nothing reflected in recent research makes Sullivan’s ill-informed opinion even slightly plausible.”
Lest you think the U.K. is just behind when it comes to women, the prediction is not much better in this country. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the gender wage gap is not expected to close until 2058!
2. Happy news: I hate to leave you with such dour news about women. So here are two items that offer some morsels of cheer:
- Linklaters’s new class of partners is 43 percent female! It’s nice to report that nine out of 21 new partners at this Magic Circle firm are women—a mark improvement over last year when the firm elected only three female partners out of 24. According to U.K.’s Law Society Gazette, Linklaters now has 18 percent female partners. (Hat tip: The Lawyer)
- Patterson Belknap elects Lisa Cleary as managing partner. Cleary will also serve as the firm’s new cochair, alongside William Cavanaugh Jr. But here’s the real news flash: Cleary isn’t breaking new ground there. She’s actually Patterson’s third female managing partner; her predecessors were Antonia Grumbach and Rochelle Korman, reports New York Law Journal.
Hey, I’m impressed!
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