April 14 of this year marked what is known as Equal Pay Day, the representing “how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.” The choice of date is based on research demonstrating that women earn approximately 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Whether it is 77, 84, or 93 cents on the dollar, there is reason to believe that women earn less than men in this country—but it takes a lot of careful work to meaningfully demonstrate it.
Recently, I have been asked for data on men’s versus women’s wages in Virginia, overall, as well as within smaller regions, such as particular localities or zip codes. Each time, the asker—a journalist—has explained that his goal is to find quantitative data addressing the topic of gender wage equity in the workplace. I’m thrilled that journalists are not only interested in asking these questions, but also looking for high-quality data to use as they write about this complex topic. But while comparing wages might appear to be the most obvious way to get at the answer, careful consideration of the data reveals why this task is not as straightforward as it may appear. Read Full Article →