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Women still work more low-pay jobs, report on gender wage gap finds

June 13, 2013|By Shan Li
  • Tess McGill (played by Melanie Griffith, with Harrison Ford) has ambitions to move up from her lowly secretary position in the 1988 film "Working Girl." More than 20 years later, many women are still fighting the same fight.
Tess McGill (played by Melanie Griffith, with Harrison Ford) has ambitions… (20th Century Fox )

One fifth of the gender pay gap can be attributed to many women still working in some of the lowest paying fields, a report finds.

Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, the White House's National Equal Pay Task Force has taken a look at why women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.

The conclusion? The top professions among women haven't changed all that much over the last half century. Women are still more likely than men to work minimum-wage or low-pay service jobs.

In 1960, the top five leading occupations for women were private household workers, secretaries, sales clerks, elementary school teachers and bookkeepers.

In 2010, the leading categories haven't changed much. The top five are secretaries, nurses, elementary and high school teachers, cashiers and retail clerks.

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The report found male-dominated jobs that do not require higher education still often pay more than the kinds of jobs mostly taken up by women.

Brick masons and block masons, for example, earn an average of $45,410 a year, the study found, while administrative assistants and secretaries typically get $34,660 a year.

"These sobering statistics matter," the report concludes. "Women comprise nearly half of our workforce, and many women are the primary breadwinners for their families.... When women are short-changed, their personal financial stability suffers and their families suffer."

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Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ShanLi

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