In West Virginia, a woman who works full-time year-round will make 67.3 cents for every dollar made by her male coworker according to Employment and Earnings, the first report of The Status of Women in the States: 2015 project.
At this rate, she will not see equal pay until 2101. If she works in STEM, she might not encounter many other women in her office, because men are 2.5 times more likely to pursue a STEM occupation.
West Virginia is just one example — projections show that Utah, North Dakota, Louisiana and Wyoming also have another century to go before reaching wage equality.
The manufacturing industry factors prominently into this trend. A recent Fortune article that provides a list of 20 job types with the biggest wage gaps disproportionately featured manufacturing-related positions:
- 70.0 percent wage gap: First-line supervisors of production and operating workers
- 72.1 percent wage gap: Production, planning and expediting clerks
- 72.8 percent wage gap: Production workers, all other
“Women represent manufacturing’s largest pool of untapped talent,” says the Manufacturing Institute study Untapped Resource: How Manufacturers Can Attract, Retain, and Advance Talented Women.
However, less than 10 percent of young women in a survey by Plante Moran selected manufacturing among the top five career fields they felt offer the most opportunity for young women.
This impacts the manufacturing industry on a large scale—companies that advance women are just more profitable. According to a 2012 study by Catalyst:
Companies with the highest representation of women on their top management teams experienced better financial performance than the group of companies with the lowest women’s representation.
The same study shows that companies with higher percentages of women executives received a 35 percent higher return on equity than those with fewer women in advanced positions.
The 2015 edition of The Simple Truth About The Gender Pay Gap also points out that workers contribute their best effort and are less likely to miss work days when they are compensated fairly.
The bright spot? The plethora of reports and studies emerging on the wage gap reflect a broad effort to shed light on the issue and inform the public about pay disparity.
The more people know about the woman in West Virginia who will lose over $530,000 during the course of her career, the sooner wage inequality will be a thing of the past.
What are some ways to work toward reducing the gender pay gap in manufacturing? Comment below or tweet @MNetBridget.