Researchers say 70% of gender pay gap is immeasurable

As a gender pay gap persists in the U.S., researchers have mostly been unable to definitively determine the primary contributing variables to the disparities, Fortune reported March 14. 

In 2023, for every $1 that men make, women earn 83 cents when measuring how women are paid compared to men holistically, Payscale's latest "Gender Pay Gap Report" found. The uncontrolled gender pay gap — how women are paid compared to men in the same job — is 99 cents for every $1 men make.

But when it comes to the causes behind the gap, researchers at the U.S. Census Bureau and the Labor Department's Women's Bureau have determined that about 70 percent of it is immeasurable, according to Fortune.

"It is kind of hard to say exactly what's happening in that 70 percent," Sarah Jane Glynn, senior adviser at the Women's Bureau, told the publication. "I think there is pretty broad consensus among researchers and economists that at least a portion of that is discrimination. But because we can't pinpoint it precisely in these kinds of statistical models, it's sort of an open question."

Researchers examined contributing factors using data from the Current Population Survey and American Community Survey linked with administrative earnings and work history records from the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service.

They said a large portion of the gender wage gap could not be explained by differences in men's and women's work histories, work hours, industry and occupation distribution, and job characteristics.

"Those are all controlled for and we have variables to measure the impact of those differences in the econometric model," Ms. Glynn told Fortune, while noting data limitations. "That 70 percent, we can't say for sure, yes, 70 percent is discrimination. But we know that's a big piece of what's lurking underneath that."

The full report from researchers is available here. Click here to access the Fortune report. 

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