Recent news articles might have us believing that women are outpacing men in terms of their earnings, and that the gender wage gap is not just closing, but reversing. One story states that 40 percent of U.S. women are the primary breadwinners in their households, suggesting that more high-paying jobs are going to women than men these days. But an analysis of these reports shows that the gender-wage gap is not nearly as small as reported.
Co-authors Rosalind C. Barnett and Caryl Rivers shed light on some misleading interpretations of U.S. Census statistics. They claim that while it’s true that women are breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. households, that statistic includes households led by single mothers.So, the term “breadwinner” implies an earning clout that is often not there in a single-earner household. Likewise, the households where women are more likely to out-earn men are also some of the lowest-income households – with combined income of $20,000 or less. As incomes go up, the gender-wage gap reappears, with few high-earning households claiming a female breadwinner.
The slow-moving economic recovery, it seems, is also hurting women. The authors also cite a current “mancovery” that is pushing women back down the earnings ladder. Between June 2009 and June 2011, the authors write, men gained 800,000 jobs while women lost 300,000. Yet the news is all about how women are outpacing men in the workplace.
Barnett and Rivers fear that these distortions of the true gender-wage gap will make women complacent, thinking “we’ve already arrived,” and it will shift focus away from fighting for equal work/equal pay legislation and working to close the gender-wage gap.
Read more at The Daily Beast.