Wage Gap Continues to Shrink Between Women and Men

October 25, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Full-time working women brought in salaries that were 81% of what their male counterparts made in 2005, continuing a gradually narrowing gender wage gap since the numbers were first recorded in 1979.

According to a US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, the 2005 median weekly salary for men came to $722, and for women, $585, a difference of $137. However, for women and men between the ages of 45 an 64 the salary gap closed slightly to $109.

The earnings were more even keeled when the BLS looked at younger age groups, where women’s salaries were 93% of men’s salaries, according to the report.

The BLS data showed that the difference between women’s and men’s earnings varied with respect to occupation. However, some occupations found the pay levels of the two genders on the same footing, such as medical scientists, teacher assistants, and bill and account collectors. The report showed there were even some occupations in which women outpaced men: certain compliance officer positions and computer support specialists.

However, some of the greatest salary divides between women and men were for financial managers, where women brought in 63.3% of men’s salaries; physicians and surgeons, with women earning 60.9% of what their male counterparts did; and securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents, where women’s salaries averaged 59.2% of the salaries of men.

The occupations where the salaries of women and men were the closest were in food preparation (women earnings 98% of what men earned), bartending (98.9%), health care and support occupations (96.8%), and recreation and fitness workers (96.9%).

The data also broke down the wage comparisons on the basis of location, and found that the salaries for women and men were closest in California, the District of Columbia and Nevada, but showed the greatest gap in Wyoming, Idaho and West Virginia.

Even though some of the greatest wage disparities occurred in the financial services occupations, the data showed women working full time in management, business and financial operations occupations earned $847 per week in 2005 – more than women earned in any other major occupational category.

The report also indicated that women are more likely than men to work part time, or fewer than 35 hours per week, and the median weekly earnings of female part-time workers were $206, compared with $190 for male part-time workers.

For the full BLS report go here .