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In a book sure to explode into public debate, ''Getting Even'' reveals why the wage gap between men and women is not going away on its own.Edition/Copyright: 05
CHAPTER 1Introduction Are you paid as much as a man would be if he had your job? Most working women today, if they're over thirty, would probably blurt out, ''No. A man would be getting more.'' Their intuitive sense is borne out by the facts. Women working full-time -- not part-time, not on maternity leave, not as consultants -- still earn only 77 cents for every full-time male dollar. Very few individual women can ever find out exactly what their male counterparts would be making in the same job. But that yawning gap between theaveragemale andaveragefemale paycheck is a pretty good clue that he'd be paid more. If you're a woman, what wouldyoudo with that extra 23 cents --an increase of nearly one third on top of your current 77-cent paycheck-- a raise that got you even with men? The wage gap has been stalled for more than a decade. It exists between women and men working at every economic level, from waitresses to corporate lawyers, from nurse's aides to CEOs.Getting Eventackles the questions: Why are women's paychecks still so far behind? And what do we have to do to catch up? Let me explain how I became interested in women's pay -- and why these questions are particularly urgent now. Back in the 1960s, when I started working full-time as a newly minted Ph.D. economist, women earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. At the time, I accepted the common explanation that the gender wage gap existed because of a ''merit gap.'' Women, this theory went, were not as well educated as men, hadn't worked as long, or were working in low-skill, stopgap jobs until they got married while men were working at higher-end jobs as family breadwinners. But this ''merit gap'' was closing. Women were streaming into colleges and jobs. Like many observers, I was convinced that the wage gap would soon close. Over my working life, I have kept my eye on that number. And for roughly the next two decades, my widely shared expectation seemed to be coming true. The gender wage gap narrowed slowly but steadily. By 1993, women were making 77 cents to a man's dollar. Then came a shock. In 1994, despite the growing economy, the gender wage gap abruptly widened. Awiderwage gap? That took my breath away. Worse, this reversal came at a time when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was starting its spectacular climb and the economy was chugging into a period of historically high employment, when every worker was needed, when highly qualified women had long been graduating at the same rates as men. How could that be? Nor was this increased wage gap a statistical aberration. Over the next several years women continued to lose ground. This made no sense. More than 40 million American working women were educated, experienced, and holding full-time jobs comparable to men's. This was a fair comparison of full-time female workers to full-time male workers, apples to apples. It left out all women who worked part-time, who were on leave, or who had dropped out of the labor force to be stay-at-home moms or caretakers for elderly relatives. Like men, these women had families dependent on their earnings. Some, like some men, were furiously ambitious, working night and day to get ahead. Most, like most men, worked hard at their nine-to-five or swing-shift schedules to keep those badly needed paychecks coming in. Why, instead of catching up, were these hardworking women suddenly falling further behind? What had changed? And why weren't women alarmed by this? Maybe it was because individual working women didn't necessarily notice that they were losing ground. In fact, many women were dumbstruck by how much more money they were making than they'd ever imagined possible. Women were comparing themselves with themselves, their income and achievements with their own expectations -- and by that measure, they were doing great. But the wage gap is not about an individual's comp
''YGetting Even?...calls for nothing short of another American revolution that enlists the public, top executives, and men as well as women in the cause of fairness.'' -- ''The Boston Globe''
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