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Equal Pay Study: The Top 10 Best and Worst Women’s Jobs for Fair Pay

Jan. 29, 2013
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January 29th marks the anniversary of the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  Lilly Ledbetter sued Goodyear in 1998 for discrimination–earlier in her career she had discovered that she had been paid less than her male peers for performing the same work.  However, due to older legislation, Ledbetter was denied her claim because she had not filed within 180 days of when she first recognized she was being underpaid.  In 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Act was passed that changed the law to filing within 180 from the latest transgression, or latest undervalued paycheck.

While the situation for equal pay has dramatically improved over the years, there still exists a gap that needs to be addressed.  NerdScholar has taken a look at the best and worst in terms of women’s pay reported as a percentage of men’s using the 2011 “Highlights of Women’s Pay” and the Occupational Outlook Handbook, both provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Of the over 60 occupations that reported women’s pay as a percentage of men, within the top ten occupations for equal pay women’s pay averaged 102% of men’s pay, whereas within the ten worst occupations for equal pay women averaged 65.8% of men’s pay.  5 characteristics in particular stand out when the top 10 best jobs for fair pay are compared with the 10 worst jobs for fair pay:

(1)  Both the 10 best and 10 worst jobs for fairpay have a composition of approximately 50% women.

The 10 most favorable fair pay jobs have an average percentage of 55.07% women workers while the 10 least favorable fair pay jobs have an average of 48.4% women workers in those occupations.  Further, the equal pay isn’t based on the percentage of women in the field–for the “police and sheriffs patrol officers” occupation, which is comprised of 11.5% women workers, women earn on average 98.9% of what men earn.  Compare this to those in “real estate and community service managers” occupations–it is comprised of 60.7% women workers, of whom earn 60.6% compared to their male counterparts’ salary.

(2)  The Top 10 best jobs for Fair Pay have Lower Educational Achievement Requirements

Each job had a minimum education necessary level for employment associated with it.  When each was weighted and averaged, the best jobs for women for equal pay required half of the postsecondary education necessary than for the jobs with the worst equal pay opportunities.  Also, only 3 jobs within the 10 best jobs for equal pay group required some form of a higher education degree, while 6 jobs within the ten worst jobs for equal pay required a higher education degree.

(3)  The Top 10 Best Jobs for Fair Pay have a Lower Average Salary

The 10 best equal pay jobs for women had an average annual salary (for both men and women) of $43,293, while the 10 worst jobs for equal pay had an average salary of $71,976(for both men and women).  This most likely heavily corresponds to the educational requirements of each pool.  But why is it that at the average higher skillsets, a larger pay gap exists?  If the same work is being done for these same jobs, it makes one think about how stereotypes may play a role at these jobs.

(4) The Top 10 Best Jobs for Fair Pay have a higher average growth rate

The average occupational growth rate is supposed to be around 14% within the next ten years.  The best occupations for equal pay have an average growth rate of 16%, while the worst occupations for equal pay have a growth rate of 14.5%.   This could possibly be good news for those who want jobs with fair pay.  However, this could also be seen as an even more gloomy forecast for the ten worst jobs–if competition plays a role in lower pay for women, than a slower growth rate won’t be helping the scenario.

(5)  The Top 10 Best Jobs for Fair Pay have a Bigger Job Pool

The fact that the top ten best jobs for fair pay also have a bigger job pool goes hand-in-hand with the average lower education required for them as opposed to the worst jobs for fair pay.  In 2010, the best jobs for equal pay had 856,510 jobs, while the worst jobs for equal pay had only 514,220 jobs.



Curious about which jobs made it into the best and worst jobs for equal pay?  Take a look at the tables below:

It’s nice to see that some jobs with larger job pools already have equal pay within their salary infrastructure.  However, this analysis also shows that there is still plenty of work that needs to be done.  Perhaps it is the more selective jobs, that require more education and hence generate more competition for their jobs that need to catch up with equal pay.  To reach that end, it truly needs to be an effort on all sides–of anyone who sees unfair inequalities to speak out against them.