By Emily Crockett
The gender wage gap has improved quite a bit since women started entering the workforce in large numbers. Women who work full time and year-round earned just 58 percent of what men earned annually in 1968; now that ratio is about 79 percent.
“A lot of the gains we saw in the ’80s and ’90s were by women catching up in terms of experience, and to some extent education — but also overtaking men on education,” said Ariane Hegewisch, program director of employment and earnings at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). “It was like a catch-up effect, as well as getting rid of glaring discrimination.”
In other words, we’ve already knocked down the low-hanging fruit. Making more substantial progress will take a lot more effort, and it’s not clear everyone’s on board to do that work.
Passing universal child care would be an expensive and complicated endeavor, Hegewisch said. But it would relieve working women of the daunting choice between earning a living and taking care of their families.