Top 10 Industries with Largest Gender Pay Gaps

Gender Pay Gap Illustration: Woman Behind Men on Stairs

Do you ever wonder how much you make, compared to others in your industry? Men and women may be surprised to find out the top 10 industries that continue to struggle with a large gender pay gap.

In this blog, I will review a recent PayScale study analyzing the gender pay gap across different jobs, industries, and geographies. I will explain some factors that contribute to the uncontrolled pay gap, and in what cases a gender discrimination attorney can help close the gap.

The Gender Pay Gap Persisted in 2016

When the data-management company PayScale updated its data to include information from 1.8 million employees between October 2014 and October 2016, one thing was clear: the gender pay gap was here to stay. Across the country, the overall gender wage gap was 24% – only two points lower than last year's level. That means for ever dollar a man earns, a woman earns 76 cents. This is also higher than the 20% gender wage gap for 2015, reported by the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

The Top 10 Industries With Unequal Pay

The data set has been evaluated by a number of different metrics, including geography and education level. When it comes to job category, the PayScale shows the following industries were the worst (based on uncontrolled data):

  1. Finance and Insurance (29.1%)
  2. Public Administration (25.6%)
  3. Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (25.2%)
  4. Health Care and Social Assistance (23.3%)
  5. Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction (22.8%)
  6. Information (22.1%)
  7. Retail Trade (20.0%)
  8. Management of Companies and Enterprises (19.4%)
  9. Manufacturing (18.8%)
  10. Utilities (18.3%)

The data uses the same category definitions as the U.S. census. So if you want to know where your job falls, you can find it there.

The fact that healthcare and social assistance ranks so highly shows that a gender payment gap can exist even in female-dominated sectors. Even though women held 80% of the jobs in that industry, they are still paid just over 77 cents on the dollar, compared to their male counterparts.

The Glass Ceiling Can Mask the Gender Pay Gap

The PayScale data can be read raw (also called uncontrolled) or controlled by job title, job level, or years of experience. When controlled in this way, women's wages are 98% of men's in the same positions. But by doing so, researchers can inadvertently hide the true harm of unequal pay. Jeff Kauflin, a writer for Forbes, explains:

In this post we focused on PayScale’s raw, uncontrolled data, because controlling for a factor like management responsibilities ignores the fact that women can be blocked from promotions by gender discrimination. If you statistically remove the differences in corporate rank, you’re manipulating the numbers in a way that can hide the effects of gender bias.

The PayScale report calls this the "opportunity gap." According to their data, Men are 85% more likely than women to be promoted to VPs or C-Suite executives by the middle of their career and 171% more likely to hold these positions later in their careers. Among 60 year old employees, more than 60% of women are still working at the individual contributor level. Among men, that number is only 45%. Since these promotions almost always come with a salary increase, an uncontrolled look at the raw data is better able to demonstrate the true gender pay gap.

Unequal Pay Is Illegal

The gender pay gap may be persistent, but in many cases it is also illegal. If your employer pays you less because of your gender, or passes you over for promotion based on your sex, you may have the grounds for a legal complaint under the Equal Pay Act or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. An employment discrimination attorney can help you determine whether you are the victim of gender discrimination and unequal pay.

At Eisenberg & Baum, LLP, we will help you review your situation and determine whether you should file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a private lawsuit in state or federal court, or pursue alternative routes to equality. No matter which strategy is best for you, we will help you fight to close the gender pay gap. Contact Eisenberg & Baum, LLP, today for a free consultation.

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