Men, Women Still Have A Substantial Pay Gap

June 2, 2004 ( - Census data shows women continue to struggle to obtain the same level of pay as their male counterparts.

Males noted an average yearly earnings of $50,000 and females $33,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s report,Evidence From Census 2000 About Earnings by Detailed Occupation for Men and Women. The agency, though, does point to a gradual reduction in the pay gap between the data in the report (collected in 1999) and more recent data collected in the Current Population Survey, where the female-to-male earnings ratio at the median was 77% in 2002, an increase of 5%.

In both gender groups, the most lucrative posts were physicians and surgeons, but the past was vastly different. While males in these roles had a median annual total compensation of $140,000, female physicians and surgeons were 66% lower, recording a median compensation level of $88,000. To explain away some of the differential, the Census Bureau noted differences in degrees of specialization within an occupation and different choices of industry or business organization. As an example, the report said women might choose more frequently than men to practice in lower-paid medical specialties – such as pediatrics – or in lower-paid institutional settings – such as a health maintenance organization (HMO).

Outside of physician and surgeon posts, other high paying careers for both men and women were similar in title, but differentiated in pay. While male dentists had a median annual compensation of $110,000, females in the same roles had a $68,000 median pay. Additionally, male lawyers made $90,000, while female attorneys only $66,000 per year. Overall, 15 of the 20 listed occupations for men appear on the list for women, and in all cases, the female median is less than that for men, the Census Bureau notes. To further illustrate this point, the report points out that female dentists, which are third on the overall rankings for women, make the same as the occupation listed as last on the list for men – management analysts.

Other Distinctions

Across all year-round, full time workers, a total sample size of roughly 83 million people, the average annual earnings comes in at $43,000 and the mean was $33,000. Broken down by race/ethnicity, the Census Bureau notes an average annual earnings of $47,000 for Asians; $46,000 for Whites; $36,000 for Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders; $34,000 for American Indians and Alaska Natives; $33,000 for Blacks and $31,000 for Hispanics.

The report points to a “rightward skewed” distribution of earnings though,in that half of workers with earnings above the median, many workers have earnings many times the median. Of all year-round, full time workers, 10% earned $15,000 or less, yet at the top end of the distribution, 10% earned $75,000 or more, 5% earned $100,000 or more, 2% earned $150,000 or more.

Perhaps a bit surprising, given the amount of news coverage directed toward executive compensation, is where Chief Executive Officers (CEO) fall on the highest median earnings list in 1999 – in the third slot between dentists and podiatrists. Overall, the top 10 median earnings posts, based on the Census Bureau’s collection of “total earnings,” were:

  • Physicians and surgeons
  • Dentists
  • CEOs
  • Podiatrists
  • Lawyers
  • Engineering Managers
  • Optometrists
  • Petroleum engineers
  • Natural Science Managers
  • Actuaries.

The report can be accessed at .