GAO: Gender Pay Gap Narrows

April 28, 2009 ( - According to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, from 1988 to 2007, the gender pay gap - the difference between men's and women's average pay before controlling for other factors - narrowed from 28 cents to 11 cents on the dollar.

The report says that for each year of the GAO’s analysis, all but about 7 cents of the gap was accounted for by differences in measurable factors – predominantly the occupations of men and women and, to a lesser extent, other factors such as experience and education. Notably, this fact steers away from the thought that the pay gap is a result of gender bias and is more a result of the fact that different occupations draw a disproportionate number of men and women.

The GAO said that factors for which it lacked data or are difficult to measure include work experience outside the occupation and discriminatory practices.”Our analysis neither confirms nor refutes the presence of discriminatory practices,” the report says.

Federal Workforce Pay Gap

The GAO’s case study analysis of one cohort of employees, those who entered the federal workforce in 1988, showed that between 1988 and 2007 the gender pay gap grew from 22 cents in 1988 to a maximum of 28 cents in 1993 and then declined to 25 cents in 2007.

After controlling for differences between men and women, all but 2 to 9 cents (depending on the year) of the pay gap over this period was accounted for by differences in measurable factors, with occupation the measurable factor that contributed most to the gap. Differences in usage of unpaid leave and breaks in federal service accounted for less than 1 cent of the pay gap.

The GAO report is here .