Congrats, ladies, you earn $10 more in median weekly salaries than your male counterparts. The gender wage gap is closing! Huzzah, time to celebrate! Wait ... what's that? The statistics are only for part-time jobs? And the wage gap is still wider than ever when men work only one to four hours a week? And women still earn 15 percent less than men on average? Damn it.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines part-time work as adding up to 35 hours or less per week. Within these parameters, women earn about 110 percent of what their male counterparts are paid weekly. Twenty-six percent of women held part-time employment in 2012, compared to 13 percent of men, according to the BLS report. But once workers reach that full-time 40-hour mark, men still out-earn women by about 81 percent on average.
Compared to men who work only one to four hours per week (who are these people, and what exactly do they do??) women earn about 70 percent of their male counterparts. But women who work only five to nine hours earn about 120 percent as much as men in a similar situation, with the numbers decreasing a bit — yet holding steady — until they sharply drop off the deep end. In the 30-39 hour working range, women still out-earn men by 110 percent. Once the numbers are tallied for those working more than 40 hours, however, women earn a bit more than 85 percent of what men do. Check out this handy graph from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Part-time health practitioner support technologists and technicians, as well as counselors, earn slightly more than part-time working men in the same fields. Both male and female pharmacists, retail buyers, and office clerks make about the same amount of money for part-time work. The gender gap is worst in the legal and insurance fields, with women making only about 60 percent of what men earn.
Even though we've recently learned than female doctors make a whopping $50,000 less than men in the medical field, women have made tremendous strides in closing the gender wage gap in the past 30 years or so, increasing annual salaries by 20 percent. And, of course, some women want to work part-time for a better life-family balance, which is completely understandable. But for those who don't have that luxury, part-time jobs may have decreased insurance options, which can affect the health and well-being of a single woman's family.
Part-time work brings about the perpetuation of tired gender stereotypes as well. As Jordan Weissmann of The Atlantic alleges, the difference aligns with the traditional role of women serving as caretakers and homemakers. Many more part-time women are educated, but cut back on hours due to their families:
The problem for women is that working part-time early in their careers can cost them salary while working full-time later in their careers, thanks to lost experience and perhaps some missed opportunities for promotions. Hence the some of the dropoff at 40 hours. Motherhood might be the most important job in the world. But all too often, our economy still make it into a career killer.