Women’s Top Five Occupations on Equal Pay Day

equal pay day 2014

In celebration of Equal Pay Day, I looked up some facts on the top women’s jobs for the last year and what women and men working full time in those jobs earned.

In 2013, the top five women’s occupations, in order, were secretary or administrative assistant, registered nurse, elementary and middle school teachers, cashiers, and nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides. These occupations account for slightly under 18% of all women working and slightly over 18% of women who work full time. The chart above shows the median annual earnings for men and women in each occupation- and men out-earn women in all five.

This is what the wage gap costs full time women workers in these occupations:

Secretaries and Administrative Assistants: Women make up 94% of secretaries and administrative assistants and earn 88% what men earn, a gap that costs women nearly $5,000 every year. If the wage gap were closed, women secretaries would be 14% more economically secure.

Registered Nurses: Ninety percent of registered nurses are women and women earn 88% of men’s wages. The gap costs women nurses approximately $7,800 annually. If women earned what men earned, it would increase their economic security 14%.

Elementary and Middle School Teachers: Women make up 81% of elementary and middle school teachers. The wage gap is smaller here- women earn 91% of what men make, but it still costs women over $4,500 per year. If the wage gap didn’t exist, women would be 9% more economically secure.

Cashiers: In 2011, women made up 74% of all cashiers, making this very close to becoming a “traditionally female” occupation (defined as those in which women make up 75% or more of the workforce), however the percentage has dropped since and is now 72%. Women cashiers make 89% of what their male counterparts earn, costing them over $2,400 annually. Without the wage gap, women cashiers would be 12% more economically secure.

Nursing, Psychiatric, and Home Health Aides: Eighty-nine percent of home health aides are women. Women earn 90% of what men earn, costing them over $2,500 every year. Women home health aides would be 11% more economically secure without the wage gap.

It is interesting to note that four of the five top women’s occupations are in traditionally female fields- nursing, teaching, etc. – and even then, women earn less than their male counterparts. The wage gap is a structural problem that requires a structural solution. Congress’s inexcusable foot dragging on this issue is costing American families their economic security and American women the pay they’ve earned.


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