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Women are gaining ground in high-paying occupations

On Behalf of | Jan 14, 2024 | Employment Law, Wage And Hour Issues

A study released by the Pew Research Center suggests that the gender pay gap is narrowing in California and around the country. Pew researchers reached this conclusion after studying data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics. The data shows that women now account for 35% of the workers in America’s 10 highest-paying occupations. In 1980, only 13% of the workers in the highest-paying occupations were women. The highest-paying occupations in the United States include physicians, attorneys, senior executives, engineers, pilots and pharmacists.

Women still the minority

Despite the advances made in recent decades, women still make up less than 50% of the workers in nine of the country’s 10 highest-paying professions despite accounting for 47% of the total workforce. Workers in the highest-paying professions usually earn $100,000 or more per year, and they are rarely covered by wage and hour laws. The average income in the United States is $41,000 per year.

Advanced degrees

One potential contributing factor to the recent inroads in high-paying professions is that women are earning advanced and specialized degrees in greater numbers. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, women now earn more than half of the Juris Doctor, Doctor of Dental Medicine, Doctor of Dental Surgery, Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees awarded each year in the United States. However, women are not pursuing STEM degrees in similar numbers. The NCE data shows that women receive less than half of the mathematics, statistics, physics and engineering degrees awarded each year. This could play a role in why men still make up more than 90% of the workers employed in high-paying engineering fields.

Making inroads

Women account for nearly half of the American workforce, but most of the country’s highest-paying occupations are dominated by men. Women are making inroads in many of these professions, potentially because they receive most of the specialized and advanced degrees awarded each year. But the majority of STEM graduates are still men. This may be why women now account for about 40% of the nation’s doctors and lawyers but less than 10% of its geological, mining and petroleum engineers.