This week the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report on average weekly earnings (both wages and salaries) of US workers, broken down in a number of interesting ways. Here is the data on the income discrepancy between men and women working in five different sectors of the workforce.
Over on Sociological Images, they point out that
…if we extrapolate this out, it adds up to a significant difference in annual earnings. If these income levels persisted for, say, 50 weeks, men in management would make $16,500 more than women; in sales, they’d make $6,500 more.
What creates the discrepancy? Oh, the usual suspects: women being hired at lower starting salaries, men being promoted at higher rates, family-unfriendly workplaces, ageism, and just plain old sexism. None of this is new news. But for some real-time evidence of the attitudes that perpetuate the salary gap, look no further than today’s interview in the New York Times magazine with Abby Joseph Cohen, a senior partner at Goldman Sachs and one of the most respected women in finance.
As a partner at Goldman Sachs and one of the best-known market analysts in this country, you’re surely aware that women continue to be thinly represented among the senior ranks on Wall Street. Why is that?
Let’s think about it in the following way: We can only deal with the pool of young women who make themselves available and express interest in investment banking.
I assume there’s no shortage of candidates.
But it’s not necessarily 50-50. When we go to various M.B.A. programs, for example, and I’m just giving you an illustrative number, if 30 percent of the class is women, then we would probably end up hiring about 30 percent women.
But if women make up 30 percent of M.B.A. programs, as has been reported, why do they represent only 12 percent of the current partners at Goldman Sachs?
I don’t think that we are proud of it, and I think we do have aspirations of improving the numbers.
Translation: It’s not really a problem! Because women don’t make themselves available for us to hire! Oh, alright…it is a problem…but we aspire to fix it!
How they plan to fix it when one of their senior executives—a woman no less—starts out by denying there’s a problem is beyond me. And this is why we find ourselves in the situation the BLS graph illustrates.