Gender pay gap still leaves a divide among earnings - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Gender pay gap still leaves a divide among earnings

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - It's been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in an attempt to end wage disparity based on gender.

Congressman Tim Ryan recently called for the passage of bills he originally co-sponsored to address this issue.

Members of the Youngstown Business and Professional Women gathered earlier this year, to celebrate an un-happy hour, in protest what they consider the inequality of women's wages.

"If the qualifications are the same and they're working just as hard, they should be paid the same amount," says local YBPW president Lisa Dickinson.

Depending on the line of work women go into and their educational backgrounds, they might not be earning as much.

The latest numbers in a 2011 U.S. Census Bureau report shows women earned 77 cents to every $1 a man earned.

The median salary for a full-time working women cashed in at about $37,000, while the median man's salary rang up to a little more than $48,000, according that same report.

The nursing field provides an example where men earned more than the women, while working the very same job with the same qualifications. According the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011, male nurses earned $60,700 per year and women earned $51,100 annually.

A local economist adds that each comparison is situational to specific fields and training.

Tod Porter is a professor and the chair of Youngstown State University's economic department. He says career paths that were some of the first to accept women, like teaching and nursing, ended up paying less, because supply for female workers in those fields was much higher than the demand at one point.

"There really are good historical arguments that certain professions were underpaid, those arguments aren't as strong today, because women do have the opportunity to go into a broad range of professions," Porter says.

With more women enrolling in college than men, the tables may soon be turning. The U.S. Department of Labor reports 71.3 percent of young women who graduated from high school in 2012 enrolled in college. Compare that to 61.3 percent of male graduates who decided to make the transition into college.

Today, Porter says experts point to a variety of factors that put women on a more level playing field with their male counterparts.

He says there's new research that shows younger, college-educated women, who are unmarried and don't have children, are bringing home the most bread.

"There's still a male advantage in earnings, but if you look at women who don't have children, that differential largely, almost entirely, disappears," Porter says.

In June of 2012, the Paycheck Fairness Act failed to make it to the Senate floor for debate.

Local lawmakers are now putting their names behind the bill to bring some equality to women working their 9 to 5.

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