Wage gap means women work for free 10 weeks a year

The median salary for women working full-time is about 80 percent of men’s, according to an analysis by the Washington Post.
Wage gap

Women work for free an average of 10 weeks per year, due to the gender pay gap, according to a new analysis from the Washington Post.

The pay gap varies by occupation, work hours, education, experience and geography, which dictate how many hours are women spend essentially working worked free. So whether the average of 10 weeks applies specifically to health IT workers or not, we know from the landmark 10-year study by HIMSS, that the gender gap actually grew wider between 2006 and 2016 in the health IT realm. 

[Also: The gender pay gap in health IT is real]

What’s more, women of color experience two different types of bias in pay due to gender, but also to race. Wages for white and Asian women have improved in the last 10 years, but salaries for Hispanic women have remained the same. And for black women, the wages have even declined.

For example, licensed practical and vocational nurses will begin to work for free on Dec. 12, while emergency medical technicians and paramedics will begin on Nov. 30. Even worse? For physicians and surgeons the wage gap is so severe, women began to work for free on Sept. 8.

[Also: Self-described firebrand Mandi Bishop on inequity in the health IT workplace]

The report also refuted some common claims purported by those who deny the wage gap. There are those who claim that women choose lower-paying jobs, but data shows that occupational sorting only accounted for between one-third to one-half of the wage gap.

For example, for the 10 occupations with the most men, the median hourly wage is $17.64. For the top 10 occupations with the most women, the median is $16.01. And education isn’t a dominant factor is whether a job is done by other gender.

Education and experience only accounted for less than 15 percent of the ‘explainable’ gap.
Further, the wage gap is actually smaller for jobs with more women in those occupations, than those jobs with both men and women workers of those with more men.

What’s interesting is that some jobs actually became lower paying for everyone within the occupation when women joined.

One cause is queuing, which happens when the pay for a profession drops and the job becomes less employable. The other is devaluation, which is when the perceived value of a job depends on the sex holding it. Essentially, the idea is that society views professions held mostly by women as less valued.

Overall, the data point to the cause for the gender gaps being more than just occupation choices or discrimination. But the wage gap is there.

To hospital executives and women in health IT: How many weeks every year do you feel work for free while your male counterparts do not? Let us know in the comments section.

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
Email the writer: bernie.monegain@himssmedia.com

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