3 facts about Oregon’s gender pay gap

Blog Post
April 10, 2018By Janet Bauer

Today is Equal Pay Day, a day that brings attention to the fact that women still earn less than men. Here are three facts about the gender pay gap in Oregon.

1. Oregon women are paid 79 cents for every dollar that Oregon men make

In 2016, the median earnings for an Oregon woman age 16 and older working full-time was about $40,000. A similar Oregon man earned nearly $51,000 that year. That means for every dollar paid to the typical Oregon man, the typical Oregon woman made just $0.79.

2. The pay gap is worse for many Oregon women of color

For many of Oregon’s women of color, the pay gap is even starker. For every dollar earned by non-Hispanic White Oregon men between 2012 and 2016, Asian women earned $0.80, Black and African American women earned $0.66, Native American and Alaska Native women earned $0.62, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women earned $0.60, and Latina women earned just $0.51.

3. Women with more education often earn less than men with less education

The pay of women trails at every level of education. For instance, a woman with a graduate or professional degree makes significantly less than her male counterpart, and a woman with a bachelor’s degree makes less than the typical man with the same degree. For women with an associate’s degree or less, not only does their pay lag that of their male counterparts, it also lags the pay of men with less education.

No single factor accounts for the gender pay gap. To some extent, the gap reflects employers not valuing the labor of women as highly as the labor of men. For instance, house cleaners — mostly female workers — are paid less than janitors, who are more likely to be men. The gap is also due to the fact that, in the United States, parenthood imposes greater economic sacrifices on women, as it is usually the mother who takes time away from work or school to raise the kids. Regrettably, workplaces in the United States do not accommodate well the needs of parents, with the price being paid mostly by women.

Yet, even those factors don’t fully account for the gender differences in pay. Researchers, for instance, have found that one year after graduation, women in the biological sciences — a mixed-gender field — earn only 75 percent as much as men earn. Such evidence points to the continued existence of gender discrimination.

Confronting the gender pay gap must be an ongoing priority for Oregon lawmakers. Legislation approved in 2017 to address discrimination in pay is a welcome step. But more needs to be done to level the playing field.

It is difficult for all Oregonians to thrive when half of the population labors under a big economic disadvantage.