For full-time, year-round workers, Oklahoma women make $0.78 for every dollar men make, ranking 44/51. For all workers, including part-time and part-year, the gap is $0.71. Vermont leads the nation with women earning $0.93 for every $1 men make; women in Wyoming fare the worst earning $0.68 for every $1 men make.
The gender wage gap is defined as the difference between median earnings of men and women relative to median earnings of men. It is based on full-time, year round workers: what women make compared to every dollar men make.
The controlled gender pay gap is $0.99 for every $1 men make, which is one cent closer to equal but still not equal. The controlled gender pay gap tells us what women earn compared to men when all compensable factors are accounted for — such as job title, education, experience, industry, job level, and hours worked. This is equal pay for equal work. The gap should be zero. It’s not zero.
Average family size is derived by dividing the number of related people in households by the number of family households. Nationally, 26.81% of households are led by single parents, 70.90% of those single parent households are led by mothers.
Gender pay gap is not the same as equal pay. Equal pay refers to a legal requirement that within an organization, “male and female staff members who are engaged in equal or similar work or work of equal value must receive equal pay and other workplace benefits.” The gender pay gap is a broader measure of the difference in the average earnings of men and women—regardless of the nature of their work.
A recent Center for American Progress analysis of the Household Pulse Survey found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Millennial mothers were nearly three times more likely than Millennial fathers to report being unable to work due to a school or child care closure. This was additional stress for the significant number of single mother households in Oklahoma.
The gender gap in pay has remained consistent in the United States for approximately 20 years. “In 2022, women earned an average of 82% of what men earned, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers. These results are similar to where the pay gap stood in 2002, when women earned 80% as much as men.” Even though women have increased their presence in higher-paying jobs traditionally dominated by men, women continue to be overrepresented in lower-paying occupations relative to their share of the workforce which contributes to the gender pay gap. If equal pay were a reality in Oklahoma, the poverty rate for working women in the state would be reduced almost by half and their earnings would increase by about $5.4 billion a year.
While girls often do well at school, there is a tendency for them to end up concentrated in employment sectors which pay less, while higher paying sectors like banking, finance and technology industries are disproportionately male. Another contributing factor might be the ever elusive attempt to strike the “work life balance” – research has shown that being a mother can reduce women’s earnings, while fatherhood can increase men’s earnings [RSFJorunal.org, Pew Research].
It has been several decades since women have joined the workforce, and while women have nothing further to prove, one might not get that impression if evaluating the discrepancy women continue to face in pay. This is especially true for women of color, who face even more severe pay discrimination than their White counterparts. Though more families are now splitting household responsibilities, many women are still the primary caregivers for children. If equal pay were a reality in Oklahoma, the poverty rate for working women in the state would be reduced almost by half and their earnings would increase by about $5.4 billion a year. Equal pay for equal work would not only close the gender wage gap, but also allow Oklahoma’s women to better afford health care, housing, food, and a life above the poverty level. Addressing pay inequality and secrecy is a crucial part of closing the gender wage gap, and protection from retaliation would be a very positive step forward for women’s economic security.
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