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The Gender Wage Gap Is Robbing Women Of Billions

Ben Raynal
Flickr Creative Commons

Women in North Carolina are likely aware that they make, on average, less than men do. New analysis from the National Partnership for Women & Families shows just how much and to what effect. Their new report reveals that women in North Carolina could afford nearly nine additional months of rent, close to a full year of child care, or more than five months of health insurance premiums if the gender wage gap was closed. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Vasu Reddy, senior policy counsel with the National Partnership for Women & Families, about the difference in pay, the disparities between races, and what needs to be done to lessen the gap. 



On the gender wage gap in North Carolina:

The good news is that North Carolina fares better than most states. It has the 43rd biggest wage gap, at 84 cents on the dollar. But even then, it's important to remember that for women who are struggling to make ends meet, there's no such thing as a small wage gap. We're still talking about thousands of dollars that could be spent on food, housing costs, health care and other basic necessities … For women in North Carolina, the annual gender wage gap is over $7,500 … That's over 11 months of childcare, more than five months of health insurance premiums [or] nearly a year of tuition and fees for a four-year college. 

On the glaring disparities in wages for women of color:

The gaps for women of color are especially egregious and harmful. If you compare them to white non-Hispanic men, we find that black women typically make 61 cents on the dollar. Native American women make 58 cents on the dollar. Latinas make 53 cents on the dollar. And Asian-American women make 85 cents on the dollar. Although if you look at specific subgroups of Asian-American women, you find even bigger gaps than that. The most likely cause of these wider gaps is because of the combined effects of sexism and racism. And this is both on a level of individual bias, but also in terms of the structural institutional disadvantages that have existed for women of color throughout this country's history. 

On the “motherhood penalty”:

We know that women are more likely to be seen as caregivers or potential caregivers. And that can affect whether you're offered a job, whether you're offered a promotion, how competent you are seen at work or how committed you're seen at work. And we've also found that when you compare mothers’ wages to fathers’ wages, we find that when women become mothers, their wages tend to decline significantly. But actually the opposite is true for men. When they become fathers, men's wages tend to increase. So we really see a motherhood penalty and a fatherhood bonus. 

Jennifer Brookland is the American Homefront Project Veterans Reporting Fellow. She covers stories about the military and veterans as well as issues affecting the people and places of North Carolina.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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