Allen County’s gender pay gap, larger than state and national


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A recent study from shows that in 2021 women still have a long way to go to match what their male counterparts make at their jobs in the United States. The data shows that women across the United States effectively stopped getting paid on Oct. 29

The recent study ranks Indiana 44th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia. It shows Hoosier women earn 24% less than men. Rachel Blakeman, Director of the Community Research Institute at Purdue University Fort Wayne, said “Indiana state numbers aren’t looking good nationally and when we look locally at Allen County’s numbers those are even worse.”

How does Allen County compare to the state and nation?

Based on 2019 statistics from the US Census Bureau, for anyone age 16 and older working in Allen County, the median earning for men was $42,189 while women made $27,074 which translates to a $15,115 gap in pay, which is a larger gap than figures for the state and nation as a whole. This statistic includes part time workers, which usually includes more women.

When looking at only full-time workers, Blakeman said “the split stays steady.”

The median earnings for men working full-time, year-round in Allen County is $51,589 while it’s $38,849 for women; a gap of $12,740. As for the average pay, the gap is a little more than $20,000. Men made $66,705 and women made $46,367.

What is causing the pay gap, even in 2021?

Despite many companies targeting women to hire, there are still challenges. According to Blakeman, there is a mixture of hurdles for women when it comes to pay – mainly systemic and structural barriers and choices that women make.

One challenge is looking at an industry by gender. Certain industries tend to have more women than men. For example, manufacturing jobs that usually pay better-than-average salaries are routinely held by men.

Another factor is scheduling. Blakeman said when it comes to joint-income households, typically men work in jobs with less scheduling flexibility and those tend to pay more.

She added that in Allen County, more women than men have a bachelors degree and they are still making less.

“Some of it’s going to be explained by career choices. If he works at a bank and she works in a school, we know who pays more,” Blakeman said. “There are also some other things that don’t get fully explained. Are women getting penalized? Not necessarily because the employer says ‘I want to pay women less,’ but is it things such as when you are doing hiring practices and you are looking to see what women have earned historically. Let’s say a woman started out and kind of got dinged on her first job and took a hit on her pay, just to get that career start, then they ask for her pay and like ‘oh she was making $36,000 at her previous job, and we could’ve paid her $50,000, but we can just pay her like $42,000 and she will think she got a big raise.'”

When it comes to choices, Blakeman gave the example of a woman choosing to be a teacher – whether it’s to have more of a family-friendly schedule or to change the world, opposed of the person who may skip college and go straight to a trade, which adds to the gender pay gap.

How to close the gap?

Disparity in pay has long been an issue. But how can the nation close the pay gap? Blakeman suggests targeting middle school and high school girls to get into higher paying careers that are usually held by men. She suggests making sure college students are fully aware of the income that their career path leads to.

“Money isn’t everything. We have a lot of people who work in social service agencies, non-profits, the public sector who are doing this for the love,” Blakeman said. “But doing good work doesn’t pay the bills; cash money does. So we want to be doing those kind of things of helping women and girls see themselves in traditionally male fields.”

Blakeman is also calling on employers to look at their pay scales and attack challenges of pay discrepancy. She adds that with more money going towards women, the more money that goes back into the economy.

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