Impact of Age on the Gender Wage Gap is Ignored at EEOC Hearing

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00069]  Something was missing from a  hearing this week on the EEOC’s proposal to reduce employment discrimination by requiring employers to report the number of individuals they employ on the basis of race, ethnicity and sex.

There was no mention of age or age discrimination.

The new reporting requirement is aimed at eliminating persistent pay inequity for women.

Several experts testified that the gender pay gap grows over women’s careers because women take time out of paid work to care for children. They cited gender differences in raises and promotions and noted that hurdles exist in some high paying occupations, such as high tech, where many women leave, citing a hostile workplace environment. They even cited research that shows women of all education levels are less likely to negotiate their first job offer than men.

A study by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) shows that over a lifetime of work (47 years), the total estimated loss of earnings of women compared to men is $700,000 for a high school graduate, $1.2 million for a college graduate and $2 million for a professional school graduate.

It seems obvious that age discrimination is a factor in the gender wage gap. Research shows that age discrimination forces women out of the workplace years earlier than men and then prevents from finding new work.

A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research looked at more than 40,000 job applications across a variety of industries and found “robust” evidence of age discrimination in hiring female candidates and “considerably less evidence” for age discrimination against male candidates.

Across all job types, sales and administrative, the researchers found “unambiguous” evidence that age discrimination starts earlier and never relents for women.

In sales, the only occupation for which researchers submitted applications from both men and women, the study found “considerably stronger evidence of discrimination against older women than older men.”

Researchers suspect that physical appearance matters more for women than men and that the law does far less to protect   women from age discrimination than men.

In a manner of speaking, the EEOC hearing demonstrates the problem. Age discrimination is not acknowledged or addressed in the same manner as other types of discrimination. It is invisible, even to  leading organizations that advocate for women.

The EEOC says its proposal to expand reporting requirements is necessary because a lack of data is a significant barrier to tackling discrimination and more data will help the agency strengthen its enforcement efforts. Isn’t this also  true for age discrimination?

The AAUW study found that  women who work full-time typically earn about 79 cents for every dollar a full-time male worker earns.  The gap begins just one year after college graduation, when women are paid 82 percent of what their similarly educated and experienced male counterparts are paid.

The 60-day public comment period on the proposed EEO-1 changes will end on April 1, 2016. Comments can be submitted electronically at  http://www.regulations.gov

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Author: pgb

Attorney at Law, author and blogger.

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