WASHINGTON – Young American women are increasingly likely to receive pay nearly equal to their male counterparts, with earnings at 93 percent of men, a new study finds. Still, those women remain as pessimistic as their mothers and grandmothers regarding gender equality.
A new report for the Pew Research Center paints a mixed picture.
While women younger than 32 now have higher rates of college completion than men that age, the analysis of census and labor data shows their hourly earnings will slip further behind by the womens mid-30s, if the experience of the past three decades is a guide.
That widening gap is due in part to the many women who take time off or reduce their hours to start families. Other factors cited in the report are gender stereotyping, discrimination, weaker professional networks and womens hesitancy to aggressively push for raises and promotions, which together may account for 20 percent to 40 percent of the pay gap.
In all, 75 percent of women ages 18 to 32 say the U.S. needs to do more to bring about equality in the workplace, a percentage similar to baby boomer women ages 49 to 67 and higher than other age groups. About 57 percent of young men answered that way.
Even so, 15 percent of young women say they have been discriminated against because of gender.
Todays generation of young women is entering the labor force near parity with men in terms of earnings and extremely well prepared in terms of their educational attainment, said Kim Parker, associate director with the Pew Social & Demographic Trends Project.
They feel empowered in many ways, yet when they look at the workplace, they see it as a mans world with the deck stacked against them.
They think that men earn more than women for doing the same job and that its easier for men to get top executive jobs than it is for women, she said.
Women are increasingly moving into higher career positions both in government and business. They make up nearly half the workforce, and the share of women in managerial and administrative occupations is nearly equal to that of men – 15 percent compared with 17 percent.
Another landmark came Tuesday, when General Motors picked Mary Barra, a 33-year company veteran, as the first female head of a major U.S. car company. Still, women currently hold just 4.5 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions, the Pew report said.