Durham County

This Triangle city is one of 5 places where working women are closing the pay gap

Women working in Durham, especially in health care, higher education and tech fields, are leading the nation in efforts to close the gender pay gap with their male counterparts, according to an Equity.com report.
Women working in Durham, especially in health care, higher education and tech fields, are leading the nation in efforts to close the gender pay gap with their male counterparts, according to an Equity.com report. AP

Many working women are bucking the national trend and bringing home more bacon than their male counterparts in Durham, according to a recent Equities.com article.

The gender wage gap still generates debate about whether it’s a myth or based on misleading data. The American Association of University Women reported last year that women’s average pay was just 80 percent of what men with similar skills and education earned for the same work.

Although a Census Bureau report in October showed the 2017 pay gap narrowed by the largest amount since 2007, women still lag, in part due to “occupational segregation,” the result of more women enter lower-paying professions than men, noted the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Other women earn less because they take more time off from work for pregnancy and child care, added a Department of Labor report. Plus, the loss of good-paying jobs for male workers without college degrees, such as manufacturing and mining, narrowed the gap.

But that’s not the whole story, labor experts say. Cornell University economists crunched the data this year, finding that roughly 30 percent of gender pay differences did not reflect career choices.

Equities.com freelance writer Julia Novakovich recently cited reports showing the pay gap has narrowed considerably since the federal Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, but the rate of change has been slow. Although more women are getting advanced degrees and higher-paying jobs, experts think they may not earn equal pay until at least 2059 at the current rate, she noted.

But there are bright spots, Novakovich said, including women working in Durham who already average 101 percent of their male counterparts’ earnings. That makes the city one of the best places in the United States for women to find equal pay opportunities, she said.

However, the city’s success may have less to do with location than with the industries in which women are working and the opportunities available where they live, Novakovich said. She specifically noted the effect that Durham’s health and education opportunities, including Duke University, its hospitals and health care facilities, and nearby Research Triangle Park, have had on female career advancement.

Women traditionally outnumber men in fields such as health care and teaching, but it’s more acceptable now for a woman to stay employed after marriage, providing them with opportunities to advance, she said. Younger women also may benefit from female mentors who already broke the glass ceiling and are reaching down to pull up others, she said.

The pay gap will narrow even more, Novakovich predicted, as women advance in higher-paying careers in business and finance and become more of the decision-makers in a range of career fields.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

Top 5 great career cities for women

A recent Equity.com reports these are great cities for working women, especially those employed in health care or higher education:

1. Rochester, Minneapolis, and St. Paul, Minnesota

2. Iowa City, Iowa

3. Denton, Texas

4. Durham, North Carolina

5. Ann Arbor, Michigan

  Comments