2014’s Best and Worst States for Women’s Equality

by Richie Bernardo

States-with-the-Highest-and-Lowest-Gender-Inequality-BadgeWomen’s rights in the United States have made leaps and bounds since the passage of the 19th Amendment. Yet many women today still struggle to crack the proverbial glass ceiling. And it doesn’t take a feminist to convince anyone that the gender gap in 21st-century America remains disgracefully wide. In 2013, the U.S. failed to make the top 10 — or even the top 20 — of the World Economic Forum’s list of the most gender-equal countries. In fact, the U.S. had fallen one spot to No. 23 since 2012 and six spots since 2011 on the WEC’s annual Global Gender Gap Index. Worse, it lagged behind developing nations — including Burundi, Lesotho, Nicaragua and the Philippines — with primary areas of weakness in economic participation and political empowerment.

Perhaps most apparent about the issue is how far gender inequality stretches in the American workplace environment. Even with all their advances toward social equality thus far, women continue to be disproportionately under-represented in leadership positions. This past March, the Center for American Progress reported that women “are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.” And though they comprise the majority of the labor force in the financial services and health care industries, none are head honchos of their companies.

Apart from unequal representation in executive leadership, salary inequity also has been central to the gender gap debate. Few experts dispute the existence of an earnings gap between women and men, but defining the issue in simple terms remains a challenge. Although the U.S. has completely closed its gender education gap, about two-thirds of minimum-wage workers across the country are female, according to the National Women’s Law Center. At a federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, the NWLC points out, a full-time worker would earn only $14,500 a year, placing a three-person family “thousands of dollars below the federal poverty line.” Unfortunately, women still have too few voices in government to help them achieve full social and economic equality in the near future.

In observance of Women’s Equality Day on Aug. 26, WalletHub crunched the numbers to gauge the scope of gender-based disparities in each of the 50 U.S. states. We did so by examining 10 key metrics, ranging from the gap in the number of female and male executives to the disparity between women’s and men’s life expectancy to the imbalance of their political representation. By highlighting the most and least gender-egalitarian states, we hope to accomplish three goals: help women find the best career opportunities, empower them to keep fighting for their rights and encourage states to learn from one another.

Main Findings

 

Overall Rank

State

Workplace Environment Rank

Education and Health Rank

Political Empowerment Rank

1 Hawaii 3 6 2
2 New York 4 17 18
3 Maryland 8 19 11
4 Maine 12 7 6
5 Nevada 1 41 16
6 Delaware 4 28 26
7 Minnesota 14 28 4
8 New Mexico 6 38 13
9 Florida 2 40 23
10 Rhode Island 9 16 34
11 Vermont 19 14 8
12 California 10 42 5
13 Massachusetts 15 22 15
14 Illinois 16 21 13
15 Wisconsin 16 14 19
T-16 Arizona 7 48 9
T-16 New Hampshire 30 27 1
18 Alaska 13 28 7
19 Missouri 18 24 12
20 Tennessee 11 12 37
21 North Dakota 26 2 33
22 North Carolina 27 9 24
23 South Dakota 23 11 36
24 Kentucky 21 3 42
25 Connecticut 21 36 9
26 Alabama 31 4 38
27 Washington 33 45 3
28 Colorado 20 46 16
29 West Virginia 35 20 34
30 South Carolina 27 7 49
31 Oregon 23 42 19
T-32 Iowa 39 13 38
T-32 Kansas 33 36 22
34 New Jersey 36 33 25
35 Mississippi 45 1 44
36 Michigan 38 26 30
37 Montana 23 46 21
T-38 Georgia 45 9 40
T-38 Ohio 41 32 28
T-40 Louisiana 47 4 41
T-40 Nebraska 37 35 30
42 Pennsylvania 39 23 42
43 Virginia 29 34 45
44 Arkansas 42 17 46
45 Oklahoma 32 28 48
46 Indiana 48 24 30
47 Texas 43 39 27
48 Idaho 49 49 28
49 Utah 44 50 47
50 Wyoming 50 44 49

State_Highest_Lowest_Gender_Inequality_082114-2

Ask the Experts

As the United States drops in rank on the WEC’s Global Gender Gap Index, we asked a panel of experts to weigh in on the reasons behind the country’s disappointing performance in closing its gender gap. Click on the experts’ profiles to read their bios and responses to the following key questions:

  1. According to 2013’s Global Gender Gap Report, the U.S. ranks No. 33 on the Health & Survival metric. What is holding us back in closing this gap?
  2. According to 2013’s Global Gender Gap Report, the U.S. ranks No. 60 on the Political Empowerment metric. What is holding us back in closing this gap?
  3. Why do women earn only “77 cents for every dollar a man makes,” pushing down the U.S.’s global rank in wage equality to No. 67?
  4. Although women comprise about 52 percent of all professional-level jobs, they make up only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. What is your advice to women who want to break in to any of these three categories?
< >
  • Henry Drummonds Professor of Law, Lewis and Clark Law School
  • Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt Willard and Margaret Carr Professor of Labor and Employment Law, Indiana University Maurer School of Law
  • Jack Raisner Associate Professor of Law, Tobin College of Business, St. John's University
  • Stephen F. Diamond Associate Professor of Law, Santa Clara University
  • Samuel Cohn Professor of Sociology, Texas A&M University
  • Pamela Remer Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology, University of Kentucky
  • Julie A. Kmec Professor of Sociology and Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professor in the Liberal Arts, Washington State University
  • Abigail Saguy Associate Professor of Sociology, UCLA
  • Sheryl Skaggs Associate Professor and Department Head of Public Affairs and Sociology, The University of Texas at Dallas
  • Janice Fanning Madden Professor of Regional Science, Sociology, and Real Estate, University of Pennsylvania
  • Victoria A. Shivy Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Nadya A. Fouad University Distinguished Professor and Chair, Special Assistant to the Provost for Conflict Resolution, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
  • Brishen Rogers Associate Professor of Law, Beasley School of Law, Temple University
  • Camille Gear Rich Professor of Law and Sociology, Gould School of Law, University of Southern California
  • William Bielby Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Medora W. Barnes Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, John Carroll University
  • Barbara Reskin Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Washington
  • Reginald Byron Assistant Professor of Sociology, Southwestern University
  • Miguel A. Centeno Professor of Sociology, Sociology Department, Princeton University
  • Carissa M. Froyum Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Northern Iowa
  • Rebecca L. Bach Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Duke University
  • Ann W. Lehman JD, Principal at Zimmerman Lehman, Gender and Governance Specialist, zimmerman-lehman.com
  • Yasemin Besen-Cassino Associate Professor, Montclair State University
  • Chad E. Forbes Assistant Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Delaware
  • Danielle M. Thomsen Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Political Science, Duke University
  • Barbara Stark Professor of Law, Maurice A. Deane School of Law, Hofstra University

Henry Drummonds

Professor of Law, Lewis and Clark Law School
Henry Drummonds
What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

Many factors are at play in the continuing and troubling gap between pay for women vs. men.

First, an obvious factor is persistent gender bias against women in some sectors and places, and the "glass ceiling," that bias helps to create. The only solution to this is further cultural change and education, and strict and effective enforcement against biased workplace treatment based on gender, by federal and state courts and administrative agencies. Society need the contributions of both men and women in order to maximize the available talent pool and economic production and efficiency. In this regard, it would help if Congress removed, or at least substantially raised, the damages caps in Title VII (our major employment discrimination law) so that victims of intentional gender bias could be fully compensated and incented to challenge gender bias and gender-based treatment, and so that employers whose managers and supervisors engage in such bias, or permit it, can be held fully accountable.

Second, even where women do the exact same work, their pay tend to be lower. Another factor in this is that women experience pregnancies and bear children and, additionally, more often shoulder the burdens (and experience the joys) of caring for children soon after birth, and during childhood, especially early childhood. That is changing somewhat as young men "step up" and assume more of the daily tasks and work in the home that children create for parents, but still, women far more often play the leading role. Despite "superwomen" who successfully balance such family responsibilities with career growth and responsibilities, overall women continue disproportionately to shoulder the work inherent in raising families. And that not only includes caring for and nurturing children, but also caring for elderly relatives that needs help. More men are stepping up, but we still have miles to go in this slow process of cultural change. The Family Medical Leave Act, and similar laws, were meant to address this issue by giving dads the same family leave rights as women, but most of these leave laws provide for leave without pay, and often families believe that higher earning men should continue to work. So we have a chicken and egg problem - women bear more of the family duties for reasons of culture and preference, but also because men more often make more than their wives, and couples who can afford for one person to take unpaid leave often choose the lower paid partner so as to minimize the loss in income to the family. The trend toward more paid leave for events like pregnancy, parenting, and the care of elderly family members who are ill or disabled may help some in this regard, but paid leave is still the exception in the United States - in sharp contrast, by the way, to practices in most other developed countries.

Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt

Willard and Margaret Carr Professor of Labor and Employment Law, Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt
What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

The "gender wage gap" that "women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes" is the most commonly abused statistic in modern American discourse. The inference that women are paid 23% less than men due to implicit or explicit wage discrimination is false. There are many other "gender gaps" that give much less nefarious explanations for this difference in average pay.

First, men on average work almost 500 hours a year more than women. Second, men take much less time off for child-rearing and retire significantly later, so on average they have many more years of work experience. Third, men do more dangerous work and are almost 12 times more likely to be killed on the job than women. Finally, men report placing a much higher importance on earning income in the selection of a job, whereas women are more interested in hours flexibility and job satisfaction. Men's strong preference for income in their work is no doubt driven at least in part by women's continuing preference for earning potential in selecting a husband.

My own empirical work on the income and job satisfaction of lawyers suggests it is much more accurate to distinguish between lawyers who do not interrupt their career to do childcare (mostly men) and lawyers who do interrupt their career to do childcare (mostly women). Men and women lawyers who do not have kids work almost identical hours and have almost identical careers and incomes. Men and women who interrupt their careers to do childcare get less years of experience and usually work many less hours even after they return to work. Male lawyers who interrupt their careers to do childcare take an even larger income hit than the women who do childcare. Interestingly though, the women lawyers who interrupt their career to do childcare report the highest career satisfaction and the greatest satisfaction with work life balance.

Jack Raisner

Associate Professor of Law, Tobin College of Business, St. John's University
Jack Raisner
What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

The reasons for gender inequality may be simply economic, in that women are willing to work for less money than men, and employers take advantage of that reality. But that reason is suspect. Glass ceilings and other pay disparities have been found to result from wide ranging forms of intentional discrimination that enter into the employment process. Discrimination often explains why employers are less willing to hire women or pay or promote them equally because, for example:

1. They perceive woman, especially those with children as less committed to the job. Many employer devalue pregnant women and punish working mothers based on stereotypes about their commitment to their jobs.

2. The firm culture may be hostile towards women and even sexualizes them, which surpresses women's pay and promotional opportunities;

3. Studies show men tend to judge women more harshly or negatively when evaluating them than they do men whose performance is equal or even identical.

4. Promotions and hiring are often carried out on a boy's club basis, in which men disfavor women over men with whom they feel more comfortable working and socializing; and

5. Many employers lack appropriate preventative measures against discrimination. Some even retaliate against women who complain.

Stephen F. Diamond

Associate Professor of Law, Santa Clara University
Stephen F. Diamond
What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

Women workers continue to face serious obstacles to equal pay for equal work. Despite the claims of figures like Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg that women have to "lean in" to get more out of their employment situations, in fact, women need to organize to gain equity in the workplace. Equity is not a goal that can be accomplished through individual effort. The decline of organized labor and the restructuring and globalization process have undermined women workers power. In addition the feminist movement has failed to connect to many working class women. New social movements must emerge to help women move forward. My history of the Equal Rights Amendment (Center for Socialist History, 2014), co-authored with the late Hal Draper, explains this in greater detail.

Samuel Cohn

Professor of Sociology, Texas A&M University
Samuel Cohn
Although women hold about 52% of all professional level jobs, they are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. What advice do you have for women who want to break-in into any of these three categories?

What Are the Roads to Victory For Women Managers Who Want to Rise on the Basis of Their Talents?

1) Put Visibility to Work For You. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, formerly of the Harvard Business Review, said that even in a culture of wolfism, being a woman gives you high visibility. High visibility opens up fantastic make or break opportunities. If you screw up the costs are devastating because everyone sees your failure and remembers it. However, if you can pull the early smash success, everyone sees that too... And you get a reputation as a miracle worker.

2) Manage a Company in an Industry that is Labor Intense. Labor intense industries have to cut costs, and therefore have to have a heavily female labor force. The company is already somewhat a women's world, and this allows prominent women to rise to the top. There have been significant famous female CEO's in both textiles and in the food sector.

3) Keep Men From Stealing the Credit For Your Accomplishments By Networking Extensively Among the Men and Letting Them See Exactly What You Are Doing. Men routinely take credit for female accomplishments. When this is a CEO hogging the credit for the work of his entire team, there is little that the hard working underlings can do. But often on teams, there is some ambitious alpha male constructing a narrative of a project's success that mostly stars himself. Arguing is acrimonious and represents ineffective damage control. But making yourself highly visible and talking to everyone helps to provide third person refereeing of the Alpha Male Account. This allows the world to remember what you really did to make the project a success.

What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

The Big Reason: There still exist far more occupations for men than for women - so men still have more career opportunities. This gives men more bargaining power since they are more in demand. The problem is not bad at the managerial level as it is at the blue collar level. Many blue collar manual occupations such as auto repairperson, HVAC repairperson or oil worker are still male preserves. Engineering is still heavily male, although women are making progress.

In the executive world, women are more likely to be owners of small marginal businesses than are men who are more likely to be in the better paid corporate sphere.

Ironically, the closing of American factories due to globalization is helping to reduce the wage gap as the demand for male labor decreases. But this does not mean women are making progress. It means than men are being reduced to the same level of economic misery that women have had to tolerate for years. Once it was mostly women who worked multiple part time jobs and couldn't get benefits. Now men’s jobs are being reorganized to be part time and without benefits as well.

Why Can't Women Crack the Very Top Positions?

Gender discrimination increases with the level of "excess" pay. When labor costs are being cut to the bone, employers hire women rather than men, because they need to find the cheapest workers possible. If you are in garment industry or light manufacture where labor costs are life and death, you go overseas, you hire women and you hire young women. This way you move your labor costs to rock bottom.

When costs don't matter, then companies can afford to discriminate and they can afford to hire relatively expensive males. In old time Hollywood studios, men were the studio bosses, the cameramen, the directors, the screenwriters, the conductors of the orchestra for the soundtrack, because the film world made a million dollars. No one needed to save money on anything. Women were confined to film roles that HAD to be played by women (damsels in distress, mothers, schoolteachers, chorus girls) and to positions involving sexuality where they were a form of consumption for high status men.

"Excess pay" produces an opportunistic culture of male wolfism. The 1950's business equivalent was the corps of all male business executives with female secretaries and personal assistants.

Pamela Remer

Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology, University of Kentucky
Pamela Remer
Although women hold about 52% of all professional level jobs, they are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. What advice do you have for women who want to break-in into any of these three categories?

I think your question is the wrong one. Gender inequality in the workplace is not an individual issue, but rather is a social one where executive leadership is based on traditional male norms and expectations. Women have already proven that they have much to contribute to the effectiveness of businesses and other workplaces. Further, many businesses have increased the number of women in high leadership positions by decreasing gender stereotyping and discrimination. So, the question ought to be for the existing workplace leaders. How can you change your workplace environments (e.g., decreasing sexual harassment, gender stereotyping) to encourage the development of top women leaders? Since the problem is a social and contextual one, it is unfair and inappropriate to ask how individual women can improve their individual chances.

P.S.: What I have said here also applies to other diverse groups (e.g. Ethnic minorities, sexual minorities). Psychologists have been conducting research on diverse leaders that strongly suggests that traditional White, male models of leadership do not fit how diverse leaders lead.

Julie A. Kmec

Professor of Sociology and Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professor in the Liberal Arts, Washington State University
Julie A. Kmec
Although women hold about 52% of all professional level jobs, they are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. What advice do you have for women who want to break-in into any of these three categories?

Women should first recognize that much of what leads to the sex segregation and pay gap that you mention are practices and structures built into the fabric of workplaces that tend to benefit men and disadvantage women - things like the use of word-of-mouth referrals to recruit and hire into top positions, stereotypes that women are not fit for top management, perceptions that women are not “management material”. In other words, no matter what women do, they are unlikely to fully break into these three categories.

That’s not to say women should not do anything. They can promote their attributes and successes. If they feel uncomfortable doing this for themselves, they should find an advocate who can do this on their behalf. When they encounter a situation they deem as unfair or unequal, they should not hesitate to (professionally and armed with details and facts) inquire why she was overlooked. For example, if a woman sees a less qualified man being promoted before her she should speak to her supervisor about the promotion and during the conversation be ready to document her qualifications (that documentation can be her performance evaluations, email messages praising her performance or work, etc.). This also means women have to keep good records - document rewards, praise, and positive evaluation - in an easy to access place in her office. Finally, in situations where possible women who want to advance should apply for promotions and positions of authority; they will not gain mobility if they never put themselves in the running for upper-level positions.

What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

The primary cause is job-level sex segregation. Simply put, the fact that women and men work in very different jobs, even within the same occupation, that pay different wages. A simple example: More women than men work as wait staff in low-end cafes and restaurants (that pay low wages) while men tend to dominate wait staff positions in high-end restaurants (that pay higher wages). Even within the professions, women and men occupy different jobs that pay different amounts. In academia, for example, men are more likely to be engineering professors than are women and women are more likely to be education professors. The former earn, on average, much more (because of opportunities for engineering professors outside of academia and greater funding streams for engineering research) than do the latter.

Abigail Saguy

Associate Professor of Sociology, UCLA
Abigail Saguy
What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

There are many factors contributing the the gender pay gap, including the fact that women tend to be in lower paying occupations, what is called “occupational segregation” and at the lower end of the hierarchy (“vertical segregation”). They are also paid less, on average, than men in the same occupation and same hierarchical level. A key contributing factors is “gender schemas.” This refers to the deeply held assumptions, on the part of both men and women, that men are more capable, rational, effective, etc., than women. Thus, studies show that, when researchers send out the exact same CV to potential employers with the only difference that one has the name “Kevin” and the other “Rachel,” Kevin is hired twice as often as Rachel.

Rather than ask what women who want to break into male-dominated jobs should do, besides being twice as good as the men — the traditional solution, I think we should be asking what employers can do to overcome their unconscious biases and hire the best people for the job.

Sheryl Skaggs

Associate Professor and Department Head of Public Affairs and Sociology, The University of Texas at Dallas
Sheryl Skaggs
Although women hold about 52% of all professional level jobs, they are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. What advice do you have for women who want to break-in into any of these three categories?

First, it is not necessarily about what women do or do not to get into these top positions. Many things happen at the level of the workplace that make it difficult for women to enter these traditionally male dominated positions such as top level men hiring others like themselves to reduce what they perceive as uncertainty, or women just not being taken seriously for these positions because they may be of childbearing age, or have a family. Men have not historically been overlooked for promotions because they have a family (and in many cases rewarded for being a “family man,” but there is an assumption that women with young children will not want a top position (or will be a poor fit because of family distractions). Women should consider themselves just as qualified as men for these positions, particularly when they have the same or better credentials. Companies often create a culture where women find it difficult to fit in, be heard or taken seriously. This is clearly a barrier to career mobility. In general, by highlighting their credentials and asking for what they need to be successful in workplaces, women are likely to increase their chances of career mobility.

What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

As I note above, there are a number of factors that account for gender disparities in the workplace whether it is pay or career mobility. Segregation of women and men into different types of jobs and mobility tracks, accounts for some of the pay gap. It is much easier to justify lower pay when the jobs or occupations are typed as male or female. However, in other cases where men and women are working side by side, pay discrepancies may be about wage setting by longstanding male managers and supervisors who do not view women as comparable workers to their male counterparts, thus setting wages unevenly. This could be about female and male workers having different opportunities to develop work specific skills through training or exposure to job tracks that expand skills and knowledge of the workplace or industry. Once this occurs, it is difficult to change without significant pressure from those at the top of the company hierarchy (who are also often male) or from entities outside the company (legal environment via lawsuits, government regulation/oversight, or through professional and social groups).

Janice Fanning Madden

Professor of Regional Science, Sociology, and Real Estate, University of Pennsylvania
Janice Fanning Madden
What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

The primary cause is job-level sex segregation. Simply put, the fact that women and men work in very different jobs, even within the same occupation, that pay different wages. A simple example: More women than men work as wait staff in low-end cafes and restaurants (that pay low wages) while men tend to dominate wait staff positions in high-end restaurants (that pay higher wages). Even within the professions, women and men occupy different jobs that pay different amounts. In academia, for example, men are more likely to be engineering professors than are women and women are more likely to be education professors. The former earn, on average, much more (because of opportunities for engineering professors outside of academia and greater funding streams for engineering research) than do the latter. About half of the gender pay gap can be attributed to differences in experience and work hours. Most of the remainder, and possibly even the differences in experience and work hours as well, is due to women being hired in lower paying positions than comparably qualified men, and then being less likely to be promoted once hired. There are some differences when women and men are in the exact same jobs, this accounts for a small share of the gap. While similar problems occur for women in other countries, the US has much, much greater overall inequality in the workforce (among white men as a group for instance) and when there is greater inequality in general across individuals, it is not surprising that there is also greater inequality between groups of people as defined by gender, race, age, or other characteristics.

Victoria A. Shivy

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University
Victoria A. Shivy
Although women hold about 52% of all professional level jobs, they are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. What advice do you have for women who want to break-in into any of these three categories?

First, it’s true that women still are underrepresented as top wage earners and, as well, overrepresented as the lowest wage earners. This finding has been consistent across decades. It’s embodied by the term “77 cents on the dollar.”

High-earning women most often are seen in the following three industry groups: education, healthcare, and business / finance. If you are a top female earner then it’s a good bet that you are working in one of these three industries. I am not saying that women should target jobs in these areas; however, it seems greater inroads have been made here. These probably are industries where women have been given, and conversely set precedent for, more flexibility in their working lives.

My recent research interests have focused on the role of social networks in individuals’ work and professional lives. When women gain entry to leadership positions, or even become CEOs, they learn what’s possible in the workplace. They’ve mastered the informational and reward structure of an organization. They also then set agendas and perhaps create possibilities for others.

Women with significant home and family responsibilities may find that their access to key informational and interpersonal supports on the job are more limited. If you juggle significant home and work responsibilities, then the energy and attention you can devote to both are reduced. You are running between home and work.

My strongest advice is for women who wish to advance is to become part of the informational and support networks at their workplace. Find knowledgeable allies. Obtain the information and mentoring you need. Learn the possibilities. Be sure you connect with others. These days, connections can occur electronically – although in-person connections probably are best.

When women remain separate from workplace social networks – that is, separate from key resources for information and social support on the job, then their potential for growth and advancement are limited. It is very hard to break into leadership or executive roles at work if you do not know the people in your organization, and they do not know you. Work, inherently, is a social situation.

In contrast, we know that men long have formed networks on the job: whether as in the much maligned “old boys’ network,” or simply as in guys who hang out together and talk during lunch. People who share information about opportunities, wages, and strategies, at work gain power. They may or may not become ‘the insiders,’ but groups and subgroups of people have much more power at work than do individuals. Whether by design or by accident, these insider networks offer considerable advantages to incumbents.

Women historically have not been insiders in these networks. In order to break into a top job in an industry or at a particular organization, I would encourage women to engage with the informational and supportive networks at work. And, if that’s not possible or not happening, to perhaps move on.

Nadya A. Fouad

University Distinguished Professor and Chair, Special Assistant to the Provost for Conflict Resolution, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Nadya A. Fouad
Although women hold about 52% of all professional level jobs, they are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. What advice do you have for women who want to break-in into any of these three categories?

We have argued in our research that the organizational climate and culture are so important, that I would encourage women to learn about that culture by asking questions about opportunities for training and development, paths for advancement, opportunities for mentoring, and how the company guards against role overload.

Brishen Rogers

Associate Professor of Law, Beasley School of Law, Temple University
Brishen Rogers
What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

I think there are two major structural causes of the gender pay gap. The first is occupational segregation: women are still often tracked into, or choose to enter, lower-paying and less-prestigious jobs. Unfortunately, this also makes it difficult to combat the gender pay gap through employment discrimination law, because the law looks at the comparison between and applicant pool and hiring outcomes. So if 80% of the applicants for a lower-paying position are women, and 80% of the applicants for a higher-paying position are men, you could see a significant pay disparity without any violation of Title VII.

The second major reason, and likely more important for professional workers, stems from some have called the "maternal wall." There is data showing that men and women in the professions make basically the same salary until their mid-30s, at which point women's compensation drops off. One explanation of this is that women take maternity leave or go onto part-time schedules more often than men. Here, a complex mix of employer stereotypes, social norms, and employee choices seem to contribute to the gender pay gap. It also points to the need for policies other than anti-discrimination laws, including greater social supports for childcare, paternity leave, and perhaps greater regulation of work hours for everyone.

Camille Gear Rich

Professor of Law and Sociology, Gould School of Law, University of Southern California
Camille Gear Rich
What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

Research suggests that the remaining wage differential between men and women is due in large part to the continuing cultural expectation that women bear the majority of responsibility for childcare and other family obligations. This cultural expectation leads to several unfortunate results. First, women may not be able to make the same investments in education, training (and other forms of human capital) that would allow them to earn higher wages because they have to allocate significant time to domestic responsibilities. Second, women may negotiate for or accept jobs with more flexible schedules and end up paying for schedule flexibility with lower wages. Last, women who do not bear disproportionate childcare and family responsibilities find that they are still subject to the stereotypical assumption that they are less invested in their careers or that they will be unreliable and leave the workforce because of family obligations. Consequently, employers may not select them for high profile work or training that would allow them to advance their careers.

William Bielby

Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago
William Bielby
Although women hold about 52% of all professional level jobs, they are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. What advice do you have for women who want to break-in into any of these three categories?

Women are substantially more likely to advance into top-level jobs in companies that already have substantial representation of women on their boards of directors and in their executive ranks. In such contexts women in management are less likely to be stereotyped, more likely to have access to informal networks of support, and more likely to get the kinds of visible and challenging assignments that make them qualified for top positions.

Medora W. Barnes

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, John Carroll University
Medora W. Barnes
Although women hold about 52% of all professional level jobs, they are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. What advice do you have for women who want to break-in into any of these three categories?

Everyone is more successful at work when they are not experiencing work-family or work-life conflict. Be aware that some companies are much better at offering policies that support work-life integration. Women aiming to get ahead should try whenever possible to work for a company that has a supportive work culture. (Check out either Forbes or Working Mother’s annual lists). An important tip for women looking to move up the career ladder is to be sure to build vertical relationships with people within your organization. Women often excel at relationship building but too often these are peer (or horizontal) relationships, which aren’t as useful. Attending leadership building workshop can also be important to develop an effective leadership style and successfully highlight your strengths.

What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

The continuing gender wage gap in the United States is caused by several factors. One of them is occupational segregation, which leads to a wage gap when men and women work in different fields or positions, and male dominated jobs pay more. Vertical segregation—or when men tend to be promoted into higher positions—is also one of the causes. Many people are aware of the existence of a “glass ceiling,” which makes it difficult for women to break into the upper levels of management and earning potential. Lastly, there does seem to be some continuing level of gender discrimination, although this varies by industry and is increasingly likely to be experienced by women with children, as opposed to single, childless women. The United States does not currently have adequate laws in place to protect workers from discrimination on the basis of parenthood status and women often bear the brunt of this absence. Furthermore, the lack of adequate work-family policies (such as paid parental leave, paid sick days, and publically-funded preschool) are structural reasons why we continue to have high levels of occupational and vertical segregation, as many woman struggle with fulfilling family responsibilities and advancing at work.

Barbara Reskin

Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Washington
Barbara Reskin
What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

Except to say that the primary cause of the pay gap is that women and men are concentrated in difference jobs, firms, and industries and the jobs men hold pay more than the jobs that women hold.

Reginald Byron

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Southwestern University
Reginald Byron
Although women hold about 52% of all professional level jobs, they are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. What advice do you have for women who want to break-in into any of these three categories?

That's a tough question. As sociologist I realize that this disparity requires a multifaceted response. Major legal and cultural changes are necessary to bring about equity. I would argue that women (and men) should ultimately petition their representatives for meaningful legal change, which includes more generous parental leave policies. On a more immediate basis, however, it is important for women to understand their organizations' cultures. For example, women should investigate how candidates are selected for these top positions. Are standard credentials most important? Do they need specific types of work experience? Or are there less obvious factors (such as one's social network) that are central to securing these positions? Understanding the rules of the games goes a long way in allowing women to proactively play the game.

What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

There are a host of factors involved in this disparity. For example, studies have shown that some of this gap can be explained by various biases that women face in the workplace. Women are more likely to be sorted into lower paying jobs than men. A woman may come in to an interview seeking an executive position only to have her competence (related to traditional patriarchal assumptions) and commitment (related to childbearing intentions) consciously or unconsciously questioned by the employer. Because of these employer biases questioning whether women are ideal workers, a female job candidate may be devalued and offered a position for which she is over qualified while a male candidate with similar credentials may be offered a higher paying position within the organization. This pattern over time can lead to sex segregated organizations where men hold most positions at the top of the pay scale. Simultaneously, there are also well documented disparities where women who do the same work are paid less than men (for example, male and female professors at the same rank within the same university). Sex segregation into certain academic specialties (think about a chemist's pay versus a teacher's pay), gendered negotiation gaps, and longstanding gender discrimination or biases in favor of male breadwinners are leading causes in this facet of the pay gap between women and men.

Miguel A. Centeno

Professor of Sociology, Sociology Department, Princeton University
Miguel A. Centeno
What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

As to the 77c to the $, some of this still has to do with the distribution of skills and education that is a legacy of the sexist past. BUT a huge amount has very much to do with sexist present. Even in academia (probably friendlier to women than any other professions) there are both structural (e.g. imbalance in gender division of domestic labor) and cultural (everything from open disdain to condescension).

As to advice? It is possible, but they ever feel that they’re having to work twice as hard as male colleagues, it is not paranoia—it’s the reality.

Carissa M. Froyum

Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Northern Iowa
Carissa M. Froyum
Although women hold about 52% of all professional level jobs, they are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. What advice do you have for women who want to break-in into any of these three categories?

Individual women can do a few things. If women want to maximize their earning potential, they should consider entering fields that are male dominated, such as the STEM fields. Those fields pay the highest to begin with so even if women face a pay gap, which they very well may, they will be starting off from a better place financially. (Of course, there are unique challenges to entering male-dominated fields.)

Women can negotiate their pay with their employer when they are first hired. There is an art to negotiation and women need to learn it. All employees should educate themselves as to what other employees are making and the average pay for their field.

They can seek out mentors and sponsors in their workplaces who can help them advance in their fields. Women should also take advantage of opportunities that fall into their laps when they do.

These solutions, however, are limited in their scope because they target the individual when the problems are systemic. Real solutions will come from us working more broadly and collectively.

First and foremost, we as a society need to actually value family. Not just in word but in deed. Women and men need to advocate for better family leave policies systematically and for all workers. Family leave that is unpaid does nothing for most workers, who are living paycheck to paycheck. Men need to take family leave, too, and do their share at home, rather than leaving that work for women. Bosses need to support workers' needs outside of the workplace.

Employees should request alternative workplace arrangements, such as working at home, and bosses need to support them in doing so.

Women should unionize because women's pay is higher when they are unionized.

We need to value--and pay--professions in which mostly women take care of others, such as childcare and nursing aides.

Collectively, we need to create more realistic expectations for balancing life inside of and outside of work. In an economy where a large segment of the population is unemployed or underemployed, why do we expect workers to be available 24/7? Workers need to advocate for having time away from work, which includes away from email.

As for dealing with discrimination, we need to empower the EEOC to carry out its task of enforcement. We also need to make salaries public so that we can identify pay discrimination more easily.

What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

The gender pay gap results from four things: women and men working in segregated fields, the devaluation of the work that women do, discrimination on the part of employers, and failure to have adequate family leave policies.

Despite declines in sex-based workplace segregation over the last forty years, many men and women still work in jobs that are segregated--women work in jobs that are dominated by women (for example, secretarial, early childhood education, nursing), while men work in jobs that are dominated by men (for example, construction, carpentry, truck driving). Employers pay less for the kind of work dominated by women. Much of the work that women do is taking care of other people, and this sort of work is especially bad paying. Work that women tend to do makes less than work men tend to do, even when men-dominated work and women-dominated work require the same level of skills or training. Computer programmers, for example, make around $300 more a week than social workers. Janitors make more than retail cashiers. Even when women and men have the same job--being a physician--there is often segregation within fields or even within individual workplaces. Women earn the majority of MDs, for example. But even MDs are segregated when we look at the kind of doctors they become, women disproportionately enter the lowest-paid specialties: pediatrics and family practice versus, say, orthopedic surgery which remains male dominated. Unfortunately, it is also the case that women on average make less than men, even in fields dominated by women.

Within individual workplaces, too, people--bosses, clients--often have very different expectations for women and men. This is true even in professional class jobs. Here's an example. A male faculty member in my department asked a woman colleague of mine to bring cookies to the next faculty meeting. He perhaps thought he was being funny, but it was a subtle way to undercut a woman who was his peer. At another meeting, I was in a small group with all men. When it came time to take notes for the group, they sat on their hands, expecting me--the only woman in the group--to just do it. These are minor examples but the research shows they are common. Bosses and coworkers often expect women to undesired work within the workplace. These expectations can compound to take up time and energy for women. Here's a more serious example from the academy. Research shows that women faculty members spend more time on service work than their male colleagues, especially things like advising students. Service work is important and so is advising students, but that sort of work doesn't help women get tenure or advance their careers.

As long as women and men remain segregated in the workplace and our society devalues work that women do, especially care work, the pay gap remains. Unfortunately, STEM fields not only remain highly gender segregated but are getting worse as they play an increasingly important role in our society.

Discrimination can also take on more overt flavors. Employers may see the work that women do as less valuable than the work that men do and offer them less money to start with. Another common form of discrimination is around expecting that women will have babies and then paying them less because employers view them as a liability.

The final issue that is important is the nonexistent family leave policies for most workers. Workers have responsibilities outside of work, including caring for children or elderly parents. But family leave policies in the US only apply to workplaces with 50 or more employees, and they are unpaid. So if someone works in a small business--as so many Americans do--or cannot afford to take family leave in a larger company or are discouraged to as so many professional-class employees are, then it is nearly impossible to balance the demands of life at home and at work. This is true for women and men, but of course women still disproportionately have responsibility for caring for children and other sick family members.

The lack of family leave policies differentiates the US from nearly all other countries in the world, including our economic peers. US stands nearly alone in its abysmal family leave policies.

Rebecca L. Bach

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Duke University
Rebecca L. Bach
Although women hold about 52% of all professional level jobs, they are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. What advice do you have for women who want to break-in into any of these three categories?

I am not sure that I am comfortable giving advice to younger women who want to break into top managerial and executive positions because the issues are very complex and not necessarily in the hands of individual women.

I am a sociologist and as such look to the social context of behaviors as much as the behaviors themselves (if not more). For instance, we know that people in positions of hiring tend to think "man" when they think of management or leadership and it can be uncomfortable for them to think "woman" as manager or leader. They also tend to interpret very similar behaviors differently based on whether they were performed by a man or a woman. So, a young woman who aspires to leadership positions may be doing everything right, but being interpretted as wrong.

We also know that there continues to be considerable occupational segregation in organizations and that women are concentrated in certain mid-level management positions (in human resources, for instance) that don't tend to lead to the executive suite. Some of the pay gap can be explained by this occupational segregation.

What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

One of the reasons that the US ranks so poorly is that we have a grossly inadequate set of work and family policies. And, these policies tend to affect women more than men. Moreover, a policy similar to that taken by Norway, which requires that 40% of Boards of Directors be female, could make a big impact in a relatively short period of time.

Ann W. Lehman

JD, Principal at Zimmerman Lehman, Gender and Governance Specialist, zimmerman-lehman.com
Ann W. Lehman
Although women hold about 52% of all professional level jobs, they are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. What advice do you have for women who want to break-in into any of these three categories?

1) The best advice I can suggest is to find yourself a really good sponsor. The Center of Talent Innovation found that creating executive presence (what it takes to be a leader) is 67% gravitas, 28% communication skills and 5% appearance. You can have sponsors coach on all of these issues. Sponsors are more than mentors. They are people who help you professionally. who In addition to giving you honest and frank feedback on everything from your work assignments to how you dress professionally, they will help ensure you are given professional opportunities to learn and shine. They put their own reputations at stake to ensure you succeed. Many large companies are setting up sponsorship opportunities but you can look for one yourself through your own connections.

2) Aiming for the top level of your organization also means never considering flexible schedules or part-time work as this choice will immediately stigmatize you as someone who is not an “ideal worker” , available almost 24/7 for work. Even if you don’t want to take that overseas job you need to be open to all opportunities that come with more responsibility and if applicable client contact.

3) Make sure you are working for a company that sees gender diversity as a priority in more than lip service. Look for messages from the CEO that are followed up with expansive initiatives that support women’s development and cultural bias programs. Take advantage of any development programs that exist in your company especially any that are designed for women.

4) If you are serious about CEO or board experience --and are not yet seasoned enough to be considered for a corporate board-- consider being on a high profile nonprofit board in preparation. There are many similar aspects in terms of governance issues and can help with connections.

What do you believe causes the gender pay gap of “77 cents to a dollar”, which makes the US rank #67 globally in terms of wage equality?

1) The biggest culprit in the gender pay gap is occupational segregation. Many women are in jobs and fields that are female dominated and pay less than male dominated ones that have equivalent education requirements. A perfect example is administrative, pays $35,000 on average and is 95% female. If you look at boilermakers, a field dominated by men (97% male) the pay is $ $56,000 per year, or Brickmason (99.9% male) it pays $45,000; the education requirement for all of these jobs are high school degrees.

Why women and men or girls and boys chose these different fields has a lot to do with cultural and socioeconomic norms that begin at an early age. Gender occupational stereotyping still exists, and while improved in the last 50 years, it is still apparent throughout the US. Even in college, where women dominate in attendance, they choose majors and fields that led to less economically remunerative jobs then men. I’m not convinced that “choice” is the correct term as they are steered in a direction early on. Is this really a choice women and men make to enter different fields or are our culture norms such that we fulfill our society’s expectations?

2) In addition, even when women and men enter the same field with similar skills and education women are paid less in almost every field. The jobs with some of the largest gender gaps are in the financial sector, i.e., Wall Street, as reported by Bloomberg news. Research demonstrates that despite occupational choices a pay gap between 7-12% exists based on unexplained differences, presumably discrimination. The world is still filled with many biases, stereotypes abound and many of these are not implicit but exist nonetheless. Women face the double bind of being consider either too aggressive and thus not liked, or not aggressive enough and then not given choice opportunities. (big leap between as Inclusion Nudges that ‘push’ the unconscious mind to help the brain make better decisions and promote more inclusive behavior. These need to be expanded.

3) Time off work cuts deeply into the lower pay scale; despite many more men taking an interest in their family responsibilities, the bulk of caregiving is still done by women. As a Harvard study found “The gender gap in pay would be considerably reduced and might vanish altogether if firms did not have an incentive to disproportionately reward individuals who labored long hours and worked particular hours.” Flexible workplaces that meet the needs of the 21st Century are being promoted by the White House Council on Women and Girls, "Many businesses already see the competitive advantage of organizing work to ensure that women and workers with families succeed."

4) The business case strongly supports flexible work environments. The Urban Institute reported they lead to increased innovation, quality, productivity, market share and lower turnover. Deloitte wrote the book Mass Career Customization in 2007, that enables a more adaptive, corporate ladder model. Stanford’s Clayman Institute is redesigning work. Part-time, flextime, job sharing, compressed weeks, shift predictability, results-only work environment (ROWE), and on and off ramping to name a few are all options and leaders must find the best fit for their company, then model them (by publically acknowledging/highlighting their contributions) to adapt to the realities of working families today.

According to 2013’s Global Gender Gap Report, the US is ranking #60 when it comes to the Political Empowerment. What is holding us back in closing this gap?

1) With only 18% women in congress, 24% women in state legislature, and 10% female governors we have a long way to catch up. One might say women are the saner gender as who in their right mind right now would want to join the US Congress, whose disapproval rate right now is 77%. What will it take to change….well the easy answer is that quotas work and fair representation electoral systems, also known as proportional representation (seats in proportion to their vote share instead of winner take all), do also. Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland - have high levels of female representation legislatures, so does Rwanda. The regional average of the Nordic countries is 40 percent female. All five Nordic countries have a proportional representation system; Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland also have voluntary party quotas.

2) Approximately ten U.S states use fair representation in their state legislatures; amongst these states is the highest percentage of legislators who are women, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

3) It may not be political possible to institute quotas or fair representation easily in the U.S. but both Republicans and Democrats could set goals and then back them up with real outreach and recruitment. As with any recruitment effort, if diversity is a goal it can be accomplished without comprising quality by expanding where one looks, instead of the usual party participation, examine the skills that are necessary to make a good leader, which will expand the pool.

4) There are many groups that support women candidates such as Emily Lists, EmergeAmerica, Representation 2020, NOW and the Feminist Majority; these need to be expanded. Leadership training should start at young age and the use of technology to make public participation easier (when you have a sick child at home) would all help.

Yasemin Besen-Cassino

Associate Professor, Montclair State University
Yasemin Besen-Cassino
Although women hold about 52% of all professional level jobs, they are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. What advice do you have for women who want to break-in into any of these three categories?

For executive women, my advice is to network as much as they can and gain as much information on salary and benefits as much as they can. Research shows that many women do not know how much their male counterparts make, which results in the pay gap. Therefore, it is very important for women to have access to current information on salary and benefits so they can negotiate effectively.

According to 2013’s Global Gender Gap Report, the US is ranking #60 when it comes to the Political Empowerment. What is holding us back in closing this gap?

Researchers have studied the pay gap from two major perspectives. One view looks at individual characterisics of the employees such as education, differences in experience and job training. The second view looks at occupational characteristics: in particular occupational segregation. Men and women work in different sectors and women's jobs tend to pay. Research finds that even controlling for invidual differences, we still have the gender wage gap.

Another major issue is parental leave policies and affordable and quality childcare. These are very important in keeping women in the work force in higher paying jobs.

Chad E. Forbes

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Delaware
Chad E. Forbes
Although women hold about 52% of all professional level jobs, they are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. What advice do you have for women who want to break-in into any of these three categories?

I can only speak to the area of my expertise which is implicit (things people are unaware of) and explicit (things people are aware of) bias. One critical factor for any women trying to crack these male dominated areas is to be aware that men are often biased towards them. Men often may not be aware of this bias, or even endorse the stereotypes that fortify it, but they are products of the socialization process and are ever lurking nonetheless (even women possess these biased associations!). This bias, in turn, can influence how people behave and act around those who are the targets of bias (in this case women), and in ways completely unbeknownst to them. For instance, when individuals are more implicitly biased towards targets it affects their decisions to hire women for leadership positions, and changes how they nonverbally behave towards them, including how far away they sit from them, how much eye contact they make, how many speech errors they commit, etc.

Again, the biased individual is usually completely unaware that this is happening. These nonverbal behaviors, in turn, affect how the target perceives the interaction, e.g., it makes them feel like the interaction isn’t going well. So these types of behaviors can leak out at any moment, be it during the interview process, in meetings, etc., and undermine interactions between men and women accordingly. It’s important that women are aware that men may be perceiving them in ways that are not representative of them, or expecting them to act in certain ways (e.g., warm and motherly), and when they don’t it can be psychologically uncomfortable for men, which again, effects how they ultimately interact with women. This could help defuse some otherwise uncomfortable situations, while also providing women with the wherewithal to stress certain examples of their performance to their male colleagues in attempts to directly undermine gender stereotypes.

According to 2013’s Global Gender Gap Report, the US is ranking #60 when it comes to the Political Empowerment. What is holding us back in closing this gap?

This is a really complicated issue that warrants a complicated answer, so again I’ll just speak to what I know. I think part of the reason the pay gap exists is because we have different expectations for men and women in our society that directly influences their ability to perform optimally in corporate America. It is still quite common in our society for women to be both the primary caretaker and co-provider. But it’s hard to be the best at work and at home! Not to mention these expectations bias people towards perceiving women to be less committed to their jobs compared to men when they have children.

These expectations invariably force women to sacrifice their career for their family, e.g., in a recent Pew Research Poll, women were much more likely to report that they had reduced their work hours, taken a significant amount of time off work, quit their job or turned down a promotion in order to care for a child or family member. If you were a manager who would you reward with a pay increase? Someone who was always there or someone who is forced to leave periodically to care for their loved ones? To the manager the decision seems straightforward but the impetus for the behavioral discrepancies is a systematic, cultural bias towards women.

Another reason is plain old gender bias and stereotypes. In a recent study male and female STEM professors received applications for a lab manager position that were completely identical except for the name on the top of the application. In one condition, the name was male and in the other condition the name was female. Results revealed that both male and female STEM professors rated the male applicant as more competent and hirable compared to the (identical) female applicant, and also selected a higher starting salary to the male applicant. This directly speaks to the fact that even when all things are equal, men still might receive a higher salary simply because of pre-existing stereotypes specific to women’s competence. Again these are but a few of the issues that perpetuate the pay gap, but they are critical nonetheless because we are often unaware of the power they have on our perceptions and behaviors.

Danielle M. Thomsen

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Political Science, Duke University
Danielle M. Thomsen
According to 2013’s Global Gender Gap Report, the US is ranking #60 when it comes to the Political Empowerment. What is holding us back in closing this gap?

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by political empowerment and which groups of women you are referring to. Most of my research is on the institutional and structural barriers to women's equal representation in congressional office. For example, the incumbency advantage still works to favor male candidates, and the pipeline to congressional office (state legislative office) is still very much dominated by men, which makes them better situated to run for higher office.

Barbara Stark

Professor of Law, Maurice A. Deane School of Law, Hofstra University
Barbara Stark
According to 2013’s Global Gender Gap Report, the US is ranking #60 when it comes to the Political Empowerment. What is holding us back in closing this gap?

As you know, the World Economic Forum is a membership organization, and its members' comprise the top 1000 corporations' in the world. Like most academics interested in women's international rights, I prefer to rely on UN materials and even World Bank data, both of which are monitored by a host of NGOs. The WEF, moreover, is limited to only 135 countries, omitting roughly 1/3 of the UN member states.

Without endorsing either their criteria or their methodology, however, to find the U.S. low on a 'political empowerment' ranking is not surprising. Three big reasons spring to mind:

1. The U.S. political system (including the realities of campaign financing and 'machine' politics).

2. Our refusal/ failure to even recognize ongoing gender discrimination and the need for a multi-pronged, comprehensive response (such as that required by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which the U.S. has still failed to ratify; or by adopting quotas for political bodies, as several states have.)

3. The personal costs of holding office in this country, including the lack of privacy and the likelihood that your family will also be subjected to these costs.

Methodology

To gauge the scope of gender-based disparities in the United States, WalletHub ranked each of the 50 U.S. states based on 10 key metrics. They range from the gap in the number of female and male executives to the disparity between women’s and men’s life expectancy to the imbalance of their political representation. The metrics and corresponding weights we used are shown below.

For each metric, we compared the differences between women and men. With “Pay,” for instance, we looked at the variance between women’s and men’s median weekly earnings. Additionally, because we compiled all 10 metrics together, in those where women were advantaged, they received a more favorable weight than those where they were gender-equal. We did this because the general consensus is that women are disadvantaged overall and therefore wanted to recognize states that at least give an upper hand to women in some areas.

The three categories under which the metrics are listed were used for organizational purposes only and did not factor in to our overall rankings.

Workplace Environment

  • Pay (Median Weekly Earnings): 1
  • Number of Executives: 1
  • Average Work Hours (for Full-Time Workers): 1
  • Number of Minimum-Wage Workers: 1
  • Unemployment Rate: 1

Education and Health

  • Number of Residents Aged 25+ with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher: 1
  • Life Expectancy at Age 65: 1

Political Empowerment

  • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. Senate: 1
  • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. House of Representatives: 1
  • Number of Lawmakers in State Legislature: 1

 

Sources: Data used to create these rankings is courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Women's Law Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Center for American Women and Politics.

Author
User
Richie Bernardo is a financial writer at WalletHub. He graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism and a minor in business from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Previously, Richie was a journalism…
573 Wallet Points