Is Gender Inequality Still an Issue in the Workforce?

As we turn into the new age of ushered equality, questions of how equal Americans are continue to persist. Gender inequality, according to the president, is still a major issue concerning the United States. In Obama’s State of the Union speech he said, “Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.”

How accurate is this statement? Well, according to a study conducted by George Washington University in 2010, “Earnings for women with college degrees have increased by 33.0% since 1979 (on an inflation-adjusted basis) compared to a 22.0% increase for male college graduates.”

Does this mean that gender inequality is coming to a close? No. According to the same study, in 2010, women only made 81.2 percent of a male’s wage. At the time of the study, the median weekly earnings for a male with a doctorate was $1,754 while the median weekly earnings for a woman with the same level of education was $1,243.

So, if the ultimate strategy to end gender inequality consists of equal pay, then the U.S. still has a bit further to go. When earnings for women with degrees have risen 33 percent, compared to the 22 percent of their male counterparts, one would assume that strides are being taken to solve the gender inequality dilemma.

However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1998, women between the ages of 20-24 earned 89.4 percent compared to men. Today, women in this group earn 89 percent of what their male counterparts make. Further, while earnings for women with a bachelor’s degree in 1998 was 74.9 percent of their male counterparts, the number decreased slightly to 73 percent in 2012.

It’s easy to dismiss the idea of gender inequality when the favorite for the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. is a woman. However, according the World Economic Forum’s annual Gender Gap report, in regards to political empowerment, the United States ranks 60th.

How is this possible? In this case, perception matters.

According to the George Washington study, 34 percent of men in the South believe that men make better political leaders than women, compared to 24 percent in the Northeast. The same study reveals that 32 percent of men in the South believe that men make better executives than women, compared to 17 percent in the Northeast. So, it is a gross misconception to say that if the United States elects a female president the gap in gender inequality will somehow close.

Photo Source: Forbes.com