by Teri Fritsma

In Minnesota, women earn 83 cents for every dollar that men earn, on average. That’s called the pay gap. To look at this a different way, the average woman would have to work almost ten years longer than the average man to equal his salary over the course of a career. Research has identified many reasons for the gap that go well beyond simple discrimination, but even after all  legitimate sources of male/female pay differences (like education level, experience, work hours, skill differences, etc.) are accounted for, there is still a gap.


In honor of Equal Pay Day (April 17th) the U.S. Department of Labor announced four winners of Equal Pay App Challenge, which invited software developers to create apps to educate people about the pay gap and build online tools to promote equal pay. The winners of the challenge include Aequitas, Close The Wage Gap, the Gender Gap App, and Demand Equal Pay For Women.  These apps all use publicly available wage data to help users learn about the gap in different occupations, industries, and areas. They’re fun ways to learn more and test your knowledge.


If you think you’re experiencing wage discrimination, what are your options? The first step is to arm yourself with information. At a minimum, know the typical salary in your current or prospective occupation. Second, know your rights. This brochure (pdf) from the Women’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor describes the laws governing wages in simple, everyday language. This can help you understand whether or not what you are experiencing counts as discrimination, and how to take the next step.


The pay gap isn’t just a “woman’s” issue. In Minnesota, 67 percent of women are counted as being in the labor force. An increasing number of them are the sole or primary wage earner in their family. This means the gap has a significant impact on everyone—men, women, and families.


4 thoughts on “83 Cents

  1. Thanks Joan, Amber, and Heather, for your comments. And Joan, to your point, I agree that a woman's choice of career is a contributing factor. Of course, that begs the question: why do female-dominated occupations, on average, pay less than male-dominated ones? Are teaching, nursing, and other such occupations "less skilled" or less demanding than many IT, construction, or production occupations? Interesting questions. Glad this topic is generating some conversation and some passion!


  2. I am also dissapointed that the gap betweens earnings is not narrower.  It's terrible to think that equal women receive 17 cents less to the dollar than men, even after the "legitimate reasons" (education level, experience, work hours, skill differences, etc.).  I like the awareness of this article and hope more awareness is put to this issue apart from one day a year.  However, I think it is one thing to learn about wage differences (ie: through the apps) and quite another to fight back against this societal issue. We can do it!


  3. It's amazing to see that there is still such a gap in pay. I'm not sure whether to be disappointed that we still haven't come far enough for men and women to receive truly equal pay, or to be grateful that the gap isn't larger. 😦


  4. Great blog post! Another reason women lag behind men in salary is because of career choice. Stereotypes still exist as to what is considered "women's work." Very often females aren't encouraged to pursue male-dominated careers, e.g., engineering, IT related, etc. These nontraditional careers which typically pay 25-30% higher or more can help women level the "paying" field.


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