There’s one area where the gender wage gap is irrelevant and even reversed. Women consistently earn more than men in part-time jobs, which women are also more likely to have.
Female part-time workers earned $US10 more in median weekly salaries than their male counterparts did in 2012, according to a new study from the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics. The BLS defines part-time work as less than 35 hours per week spent on a sole or principal job.
In full-time positions, however, the gender wage gap is alive and well. For a standard 40-hour work week, men still make 15% more than women in overall median weekly earnings. A previous data set also revealed that women earned more than men in only two full-time occupations in 2012: counselors and health practitioner support technologists and technicians.
What’s particularly interesting about the latest BLS release is how the comparison between male and female earnings changes with hours worked. At the lowest end of part-time positions — people who work only one to four hours per week — men earn 14.3% more than women. Then, as weekly hours increase, women consistently make more than men until hitting the 40-hour-a-week mark. From there on up, their median weekly earnings taper off in comparison to men. You can see that in the chart below:
It’s perhaps not surprising that women earn more than men in part-time positions when you consider what might lead someone to work part time. Jordan Weissmann writes in his post for the Atlantic that the difference boils down to marriage and children.
Women, including highly educated professionals, tend to cut their hours once they have families, especially if their husband has a higher salary. Men, meanwhile, are more likely to keep working a full week. And so part-time women, as a group, are somewhat more likely to have gone to college, and far less likely to have dropped out of high school, than part-time men, who may well be working shorter shifts for lack of better options.
This theory aligns well with the data on the ages of part-time employees provided by the BLS. On the whole, women working part time tend to be older than men. In 2012, 43% of part-time men were 16 to 24 years old, compared with 29% of women.
There are also significantly more female than male part-time workers. Just 13% of men were employed part time, compared to 26% of women.