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Jul 9 / Tracy Walker

The Gender Pay Gap: Three Things Women Can Do to Bridge the Gap


There is clear evidence that a gender wage gap exists in the United States. Here are the facts.

  • On average in the U.S., a woman with a full time job is paid $39,157 per year, whereas a man is paid $50,033. This means that, overall, women make $0.78 for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
  • The wage gap is highest in Louisiana ($0.34 cent wage gap for women). However, Michigan weighs in as the 11th worst state, with women on average earning $0.25 cents less on every dollar than men. The wage gap is the smallest in the District of Columbia ($0.09 cents).

Even athletes are not immune. The total payout for the Women’s World Cup in Soccer this year is $15 million dollars. In contrast, the total payout for the Men’s World Cup last year was $576 million. Likewise, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation, the total prize package for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour was $50 million; the package for the PGA (male) tour was $256 million. A bright spot in sports, however, is professional tennis, where payouts for all major tournaments are now equal for men and women.

So, why is there a pay gap? Some of the difference is related to career choice. The compensation for some traditionally female careers, such as teaching, nursing, and social work, is lower than the compensation for traditionally male careers like computer programming, engineering, and firefighting. Some of the difference is also related to the fact that women are more likely than men to have career interruptions, which impact long-term earnings. But such factors, alone, do not explain all of the gap that exists between men and women. Recently, McMaster University, in a multi-year investigation of its faculty compensation practices, found a 2% pay gap that could not be explained by discipline and rank.

So what can women do to address the pay gap?

  • Develop negotiation skills. There is also some evidence that women are less likely than men to negotiate for better compensation and that this contributes to larger pay gaps in the later years of a woman’s career.
  • Support and encourage the future generations of young women to make wise choices about college and college majors, both of which can influence future earning potential.
  • Be aware of and support state and federal legislative efforts to prevent gender-based discrimination in pay.

The Commission on the Status of Women is investigating the gender pay gap at Wayne State. Stay tuned for the outcomes of our investigations.


Flaherty, C. (2015, April 30). McMaster U addresses gender pay gap with $3500 raises to female faculty members. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

Hill, C. (2015). The simple truth about the gender pay gap (Spring 2015). Retrieved from

National Partnership on Women and Families. (2014, September). America’s women and the wage gap. Retrieved from

Patten, E. (2015, April 14). On Equal Pay Day, key facts about the gender pay gap. Retrieved from

Pilon, M. (2015, June 7). The World Cup pay gap: What the U.S. and Japan didn’t win in the women’s soccer final. Politico. Retrieved from

The White House Council on Economic Advisers. (2015, April 14). Five facts about the gender pay gap. Retrieved from

Women’s Sports Foundation. (2011). Pay inequity in athletics. Retrieved from


A_TrepanierAngela Trepanier, MS, CGC, is the director of the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program and an assistant professor of Molecular Medicine and Genetics at Wayne State University and chair of COSW’s Information and Research Committee. A past chair of COSW, she served as a commissioner for four years. Trepanier’s clinical interests include genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer and other adult onset disorders. Other interests include promoting medical genetics education and evaluating educational approaches, developing public policy related to medical genetics and genetic counseling, and evaluating service delivery models. Trepanier is a past president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and a founding board member of both the Michigan Association of Genetic Counselors and the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Genetic Counseling Foundation. She also sits on a number of national advisory committees.