Treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s an old adage that staying in power is for a good reason. But in today’s workforce, what that really means is: treat everyone like a man.
To close the gender gap in both STEM representation and pay, it’s important to treat everyone as if they were high-performing men, according to new research by Sharon Sassler, professor of sociology and director of undergraduate studies at Cornell University. Gibb E. Brooks School of Public Policy. It found that if women received the same relative compensation as men at every stage of life, the gender pay gap would narrow by 6.3%. If women earned the same marriage premium – 8.2 cents per hour – as men, the gap would similarly narrow by about 5%.
Sassler, along with FTC economist Pamela Mayrhofer, delved into the experiences of women in computer science, along with other STEM fields. (The report was co-authored by Katherine Michelmore, associate professor of public policy at the University of Michigan, and Christine Smith, associate professor of sociology at Dartmouth College.)
Computer science professionals represent nearly half of STEM workers, so the persistent wage gap in this discipline could speak volumes about the larger industry, the researchers wrote. Sassler and Mayrhofer focused on full-time, college-educated workers between the ages of 22 and 60, a broad sample. They sought to uncover “the proportion of the gender pay gap that would remain if men and women were rewarded equally for the same traits – such as parenthood, marital status, field of study, or occupation.”
Over time, women have emerged in STEM fields in greater numbers and gained a greater foothold, but their overall strides and pay levels have left much to be desired (STEM fields remain two-thirds male). “It’s not about the composition of women in STEM fields, but rather the returns they get for the same attributes as their male counterparts, like having a degree,” Sassler said. Cornell Chronicle.
Sassler and Mayrhofer studied the earning rates of women versus men in computer science jobs between 2009 and 2019, and found that these women earned about 86.6 cents on the men’s dollar. Controlling for age, field of degree, education level, occupation, and race narrowed the gap to 91 cents on the dollar.
That’s much better than the average working woman, who earns 82 cents of every dollar a man earns, but that’s still far from equal. By the time women reach their mid-20s, before most have children, they are already far behind men, Sassler added. “We keep saying that if we encourage more women to study and go into STEM fields, the pay gap will go away, but it won’t go away.”
Segmentation by background
Data show that married women receive a wage premium compared to single women, and women with young children end up earning more than women without children. Divorced men appear to benefit from having been married before, earning marginally 1.5% more than never-married men. However, divorced women do not have the same advantage compared to single women, and they earn 4.5 cents per hour less than single men.
However, all women earn less than men in any family group. And the problem is getting worse. Not only does the field of computer science present barriers to female participation, but these barriers have only grown for entrants to the workforce since the early 2000s, according to research.
The pay gap could be due to the types of computer science jobs women have — which are likely to be less well paid than men — but this only accounts for about a third of the gap, the researchers wrote. Instead, the overarching issue is that women receive “different returns” relative to men relative to their characteristics, such as their marital and parental status.
Men also “receive significant pay bonuses” for their computer science degrees, while women with the same education receive nothing. That’s why, as Sassler puts it, “closing the gender pay gap in computer science requires treating women like men, not just increasing their representation.”
Sassler recently authored two studies that paint a bleak picture for women in STEM-related professions. The first, published on October 28, is titled “Group Differences in Occupation Retention Among Computer Science Degree Holders: Reevaluating the Role of Family.” The second report, published two days later, is titled “Factors Shaping the Gender Wage Gap Among College-Graduated Computer Science Workers.” Both reports concluded that women with computer science degrees are much less likely than men to have a related, high-paying job.
Unfortunately, as any working woman can tell you, it’s not just a STEM problem. This year, according to Payscale’s 2023 Gender Pay Gap Report, the disparity between men’s and women’s earnings still costs women $90,000 over their lifetime. But the real reason for the wage disparity remains a mystery. The report found that 70% of them “cannot be measured.”
“It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on in that 70%,” said Sarah Jane Glenn, senior adviser in the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau. luck on time. I think there’s broad consensus among researchers and economists that at least part of this is discrimination. But because we can’t pinpoint that in these kinds of statistical models, it’s kind of an open question.
Even computer scientists can’t figure it out.