Male-female pay inequity still a problem in the state

Dennis DalmanEditorial, Opinion, Print Editions, Print St. Joseph0 Comments

Minnesota ranks tops in the nation for women workers in terms of economic and social well-being, according to a study released this year by WalletHub.

That’s the good news.

The not-so-good news is Minnesota women workers still earn less than their male counterparts in 20 key industries analyzed, according to an article by Sanjukta Chaudhuri in Trends magazine.

In those industries, full-time women workers earn on average 85.5 percent of what male counterparts make.

The industries with the biggest wage gaps, Chaudhuri writes, are finance and insurance, followed by utilities, professional, scientific and technical services, company management, enterprise management and information systems.

The narrowest gaps are in arts, entertainment and recreation, accommodations and food services, administrative support and waste management.

Chaudhuri concludes the reasons why women earn less are complicated and various. The causes included human capital differences such as educational attainment, skills, relevant experience, productivity and tenure.

Other causes are differences between labor market and family choices such as family formation or breaks from work to raise families. Systemic issues include lower rewards for equal work, career stalling, marriage and family penalties, the glass-ceiling syndrome, subtle prejudices and stereotyping.

Because the causes are complex, a solution will likely be hard to come by, we can assume. However, on the other hand, there should be allowances and compensations made for so many of the causal factors, such as family raising, educational and experiential backgrounds, and lack of tenure. The causes of “subtle prejudices” and “stereotyping” have long played a part in many of the other factors, one way or another. In other words, for many decades systemic prejudices have existed to impede the economic progress of women, and there is no doubt in some quarters and many industries those same prejudicial forces, subtle or not so subtle, lurk just underneath the other causes, such as career stalling and family penalties.

What is needed are studies in each of those 20 industries that would first examine all causes of pay inequity and then close the pay gaps completely irrespective of any so-called causes.

It’s good Minnesota is a leader in pay equity, but it’s obvious we still have a way to go. The 14.5-percent pay-equity gap must be closed, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

Author: Dennis Dalman

Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.

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