Friday was International Women’s Day, meant to raise awareness of violence against women and the inequalities that affect women around the world. One area the United States continues to struggle with is gender equality in pay. In 2011, the median annual earnings of men was $47,233. Women earned just 78.8% of the men’s pay, or more than $10,000 less. This difference has remained basically unchanged over the past five years in the U.S.
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In some places in this country, women have begun to approach truly equal footing. In Los Angeles, women earned more than 91% of the male median. However, in other parts of the country, the gender pay gap is far more severe. In Provo-Orem, Utah, the median earnings of women employed full-time, year-round, was just 61.6% of men, or nearly $20,000 less. Based on a review of the 100 most populous metropolitan areas, 24/7 Wall St. identified the worst-paying cities for women in the United States.
Some industries have a much smaller gender pay gap than others. In food preparation, health care, and computers and mathematics, the median earnings of women in 2011 was at least 85% that of men’s. The areas with a higher concentration of these jobs tended to have a smaller pay gap.
Other industries have extremely wide gaps in earnings. In the legal profession, women earned barely half what men did. And because it is such a high-paying field, the difference in income was roughly $54,000. In sales, construction, mineral extraction and manufacturing jobs, there are similar gaps both in median wages and access to high-level jobs.
The cities that tend to have the biggest gender wage gap have higher concentrations of industries where earnings are unequal. Wichita, Kan., and Ogden, Utah, have high proportions of manufacturing jobs. Cities such as Baton Rouge, La., and Lancaster, Pa., have large construction and extraction industries.
Culture may also play a part in the cities with a higher gender wage gap. The two metropolitan regions with the biggest gap are both in Utah. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Ariane Hegewisch, a research director for the Institute For Women’s Policy Research, explained that while Utah may also have a high proportion of industries that tend to favor men in pay, “they are a more traditional culture,” meaning women are more likely to avoid high-paying jobs or receive offers.
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To identify the cities that pay women the least, 24/7 Wall St. compared the median earnings for the past 12 months of both men and women who worked full-time, year-round in the country’s 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas, based on data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. We also reviewed employment composition by sector, also from the Census Bureau. All data was for 2011, the most recent period available.
These are the worst-paying cities for women.
10. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.
> Women’s pay as pct. of men’s: 73.1%
> Median income for men: $61,412
> Median income for women: $44,879
Seattle is one of the West Coast’s biggest tech hubs, with companies such as Microsoft and Amazon.com among its top employers. Few major metropolitan areas have a larger proportion of workers in tech jobs than Seattle. In those sectors, pay for women was closer to that of men than most, with the median income for women 86.6% of men’s income. Still, the difference is not unsubstantial, with men earning $12,644 more than their female counterparts. In other sectors, the disparity was worse. For example, in management positions, median earnings for men exceeded the median earnings for women by more than $26,000.
9. Tulsa, Okla.
> Women’s pay as pct. of men’s: 72.9%
> Median income for men: $45,312
> Median income for women: $33,048
As a state, Oklahoma’s gender pay gap was wide. And in the state’s second-largest metropolitan area, Tulsa, the gender pay gap was even worse. Barely 5% of Tulsa’s 10,000 transportation workers were women. For those women, the median pay was just 56% of the men’s pay. Nearly 10% of the region’s full-time workers were in sales positions, with women accounting for 40% of those jobs. In 2011, men in sales positions earned a median of $22,155 more than their female counterparts, more than $5,000 greater than the national gap for such jobs.
8. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.
> Women’s pay as pct. of men’s: 72.1%
> Median income for men: $72,202
> Median income for women: $52,063
The median income for women in Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area was more than $20,000 less than the median income of men in 2011. Western Connecticut employs many people in financial services. In Stamford, both UBS and RBS banks employ thousands of people, and countless hedge funds are also situated in the region. Yet there was a profound gap in pay equity between men and women in business and financial operations, with women earning a median of just 54.8% of the men’s pay. In some fields, however, there was no apparent pay gap. In architecture and engineering occupations, women working full time earned a median of $85,227, actually slightly larger than the median pay for men.