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Bridging the pay gap between genders

Wasn't the battle of the sexes won long ago?

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Maybe the battle was won, but not the war. The wage war, that is. Even though federal laws protect women against discrimination, a pay gap persists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics attests to the fact that women get paid less than men. How big the gender wage gap is, and the reasons for it, depends on who you talk to.

Estimates on what women earn vary anywhere from 65 cents on up to 98 cents for every dollar that men make. The BLS released figures last year from 2004 -- the most recent year for which statistics are available -- showing that women's median weekly earnings were 80 percent that of men. That's an improvement over their earnings in 1979, when they brought home 62 percent. But it's still a significant gap.

Some reasons why women get less pay:

The picture is even bleaker if you look at the money made over an entire career in the work force. According to Jill Miller, chief executive officer and president of the advocacy organization Women Work!, a woman who only completes high school will make $700,000 less than a similarly educated man over the course of her work career. That discrepancy widens to $1.2 million for college-educated women compared to educated males.

The numbers game 
 
 
Source: Bankrate.com
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And while men do get paid more, both sexes have been feeling a pinch lately. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's report for 2005 -- released in August -- wages and salaries for those under age 65 declined last year. The scales are still tipped in favor of men, though. Their salaries declined in 2005 and 2004, while those of women declined both those years, in addition to 2003.

It's hard to get a handle on the gender pay gap and how big it is since so many variables are involved.

Some experts point out that it's nearly impossible to get true apples-to-apples comparisons between men's and women's pay unless the exact same job is measured in the same region.

 
 
Next: "... you can ask friends and co-employees what they are being paid."
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