Expanding women's access to middle-skilled jobs in growing sectors like manufacturing and information technology (IT) could help narrow the gender pay gap and improve economic security for families.
That's the key takeaway from a new study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR).
Nationwide, female full-time workers made only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men last year. The wage gap widens for middle-skilled workers in female-dominated jobs, who earn just 66 cents on the dollar paid to their counterparts in male-dominated occupations.
Women hold 55 percent of all middle-skilled jobs, i.e. those requiring a high school education but not a bachelor's degree, yet they account for only a third of workers in "good," middle-skilled occupations paying between $35,000 and $102,000 a year, IWPR found. On the flipside, women represent 86 percent of middle-skilled workers making less than $30,000 annually.
"Progress on closing the gender wage gap has slowed to a halt in the last decade," IWPR's Ariane Hegewisch, the study's lead author, said in a statement. "At the same time, employers are facing a shortage in workers who can fill these fast growing jobs in middle-skill sectors. Integrating these occupations is a win-win-win for women, employers and the economy as a whole."