Gender Wage Disparity Persists

The glass ceiling is still largely in place for women hoping to move into management positions, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office.

The New York Times reports that in 2007, the most recent year for which comprehensive data is available, women total 40 percent of management in the American labor force. That's up from 39 of managers in 2000.

Eighty Percent of What Men Make

The disparity doesn't stop there, however: full-time female employees made only 80 cents on the dollar men earned last year, though that's up significantly from the 62 cents on the dollar women earned in 1979.

A similar wage gap exists in management positions as well: full-time female managers earned 81 cents on the dollar earned by male peers. The pay gap varies by industry, with the narrowest gap in public administration, where women in management earned 87 cents per dollar earned by male managers. The gap was widest in financial services and construction: both industries pay female managers only 78 percent of what male managers earn.

Mothers Earn Less Than Fathers

Across the spectrum of the management work force, the gender gap in wages was wider for women who are mothers than men who are fathers. Mothers in management earn 79 percent of what fathers in management earn after adjustments are made for factors including age and education. The gap is unchanged since 2000, the GAO says.

The inequality in pay is also likely a factor in making parenting decisions. In 2007, 63 percent of women managers had no children, while 57 percent of male managers were childless. Female managers are also significantly less likely to be married: 74 percent are unmarried, while 59 percent of men are single.

The GAO prepared the report at the request of Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York.

Adding Insult to Injury

"When working women have kids, they know it will change their lives, but they are stunned at how much it changes their paycheck," Maloney said. "In this economy, it is adding insult to injury, especially as families are increasingly relying on the wages of working moms."

There's no doubt that both insult and injury occur in many cases in which qualified women earn less than their male peers, are given fewer opportunities to advance their careers or are punished directly or indirectly for becoming wives and mothers.

Fighting Discrimination

If you have questions about sexual discrimination, a gender gap in pay and promotions, pregnancy or motherhood discrimination or related issues, contact a Pasadena, California Employment law firm experienced in both state and federal labor law litigation and negotiation. An employment law attorney assesses the facts of your situation and advises you of your legal rights and options.