Women in the United States only earn about 79% of what men – on average about $10,000 less a year for the same job. But it appears that in Richmond, it’s a different story.
“I started by looking at census data on income from 2005 to 2013,” explains Courtney Miller, who authored the study. Miller looked into median incomes for men and women, then she calculated women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s. She also considered data on income, education, and industry for each city to anchor her study.
What Miller found is that the gender wage gap in Richmond shrunk by 105% between 2005 and 2013.
In 2005, the median income for men in Richmond was $48,175 (when calculated in 2013 dollars). Women, in contrast, earned $44,967 —or 6.6% less than men.
Incomes took a hit during the Great Recession. By 2013, the median income for men was reduced to $40,348. At the same time, women earned $40,448 —or .35% more than men. The difference between women’s earning in 2005 to 2013 adds up to the gender wage gap rebound of 105% for women.
So why did this happen in Richmond?
“It could be region, crime rate, the fact that there are lower paying jobs,” Miller says. “But for every $10,000 in higher income for a city, expect a 3% increase in the gender wage gap.”
According to the data gathered by nerdwallet, all but four of the cities in which women earn more than men all have lower median incomes than the national average of $30,454 annually.
This implies that while women do earn more than men in these cities, they are doing so at lower paying jobs.
Miller explains: “If you’re making minimum wage, it doesn’t matter your gender because you’re all getting paid the same. There are so many factors that go into the gender wage gap and into low income communities that might make this happen.”
The gender pay gap study raises as many questions as it answers. For example, while the data show women made a 4.2% gain in education over men during the eight-year period, it doesn't explain how this affects the workforce.
Also discussed are “gendered” industries — those which have a significant workforce of a particular gender. Construction and manufacturing are over 90% and 70% male respectively, while the education and health services workforce is over 70% female. All three industries saw gains Richmond between 2005 and 2013, and the implication is that these jobs stayed gendered as they have in the past. Despite these gender biases in prominent industries of the city, women still pulled ahead in the gender wage gap.
It is unclear exactly where these gains for women originated, but the big picture remains: women in Richmond have rebounded from the gender wage gap. Now they just need higher paying positions.