The U.S. has more female doctors, lawyers and dentists than 40 years ago, but pay inequalities between women and their male counterparts aren’t yet a thing of the past.
The disparity in Indiana is the fifth worst in the country, with women earning, on average, 72 percent of their male co-workers’ wages, according to a study by the American Association of University Women released earlier this year.
Title IX might help get a woman to the office, but it won’t necessarily defend her against the pay gap and other forms of discrimination.
“Title IX’s effect on the workplace was through educating women to become doctors, lawyers and CPAs,” Indiana University Maurer School of Law professor Julia Lamber said in an email, adding that the landmark legislation removed barriers for women in higher education.
Allowing females greater access to post-undergraduate and professional programs shifted the demographic of the workforce.
According to the Law School Admission Council, only 10 percent of law students were female in the early 1970s. Today, nearly 50 percent of law students are women, many of whom practice law after degree completion.
But because Title IX only applies to institutions receiving federal financial assistance, it doesn’t do much to regulate what private employers can and cannot do.
Fortunately for women in the workforce, that’s where Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 comes in.
Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against any individual on the basis of sex, among other characteristics, in regards to hiring practices, termination, terms, conditions, privileges of employment and compensation.
Some very visible strides have been made since then.
The pay gap has shrunk in the past 30 years, according to a 2011 study conducted in part by IU assistant professor of sociology Youngjoo Cha, but those improvements began to stabilize in the 2000s.
“Women, even when employed full time, typically have more family obligations than men,” Cha said in a news release, adding that time spent managing the household detracts from careers in which workers are “often evaluated based on their face time.”
Career coach Tim Dugger, who worked in management and recruiting before starting Indianapolis-based career counseling firm Career Café, said he also believes a woman’s involvement in the home is largely to blame for the rift.
“They carve out less time to promote themselves,” he said. “Men are more likely to be out there networking and have a greater circle of friends and know people of influence.”
Dugger said networking is one of the best ways in which women can help themselves narrow the gender gap.
“Networking looks like so many different things,” he said. “Meet with people outside your department within the organization, so you become better known through the organization.”
Getting involved with a nonprofit, he said, is a way to do something good for both the community and your career.
“Those organizations are often staffed by volunteers and donors, some of who are very prominent people,” Dugger said. “You’re exposing yourself to people that could be hiring managers and know people of influence.”
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