Tesla’s Sexism Case Exposes This Overlooked Reason for the Gender Gap

In The News

By Heidi Hartmann

Another day, another high-profile case of sexism at a major company. Late last month, former Tesla engineer AJ Vandermeyden spoke to The Guardian about a lawsuit she filed last year against the company, citing sexual harassment and pay discrimination.

She still works at Tesla, according to The Guardian, but now in the company’s purchasing department, a non-engineering role where hopefully she is finding less hostility. But Vandermeyden’s story shows why there are still so few women in tech today, and echoes the challenges the women who are in tech (and other male-dominated industries) still face.

Despite progress, the U.S. labor market continues to be segregated by gender, one of the most significant factors contributing to the gender wage gap. The majority of women work in jobs primarily done by other women, such as nursing, and an even larger share of men work in jobs primarily done by other men, such as engineering. And, female-dominated jobs tend to pay much less, often despite similar skill requirements, than male-dominated ones. In fact, renowned economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn estimate that about half of the overall gender wage gap in the economy is due to job segregation: Women make 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man, but of the 20 percentage points that stand between women and equal pay, about 10 percentage points are due to this segregation in the labor market (the rest of the gap is due to a combination of factors like education, time in the workforce, and yes, discrimination).

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