New Study Finds Women in Philadelphia Region Still Face Significant Inequality at Work and at Home

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Media Contact:Jacquie Posey | jposey@pobox.upenn.edu | 215-898-6460January 16, 2003

PHILADELPHIA – The women's movement has shattered some glass ceilings, but full-time working women in Philadelphia still earn 25 percent less than men, with the wage disparity for women in "pink collar jobs" even greater.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Solutions for Progress joined leaders from Women's Way in releasing the Women's Way report, "A Change of Pace: Accelerating Women's Progress."

According to the report, women working full-time in 2001 in the Philadelphia region of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties earned a median income of $31,375 while men working full-time earned a median income of $42,050, or $10,675 more than women.

Further, women were overrepresented in "pink collar jobs" such as personal care, health-care support and administrative support. These occupations represent the lowest paying jobs in the workforce with median hourly wages ranging from $7.40 to $10.18.

Dana L. Barron, associate director of the University of Pennsylvania's Alice Paul Center for Research on Women and Gender , in collaboration with Laryssa Mykyta, senior policy analyst with Solutions for Progress, collected and analyzed data from federal agencies including the Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Labor, and from published reports.

"This report shows how far we still have to go to give all families access to the jobs, wages and opportunities they need to lead secure and meaningful lives," Barron said.

The report covers income and occupations, poverty and economic security, housing, responsibility for care giving, work/family balance, assets and wealth, influence, aging and retirement and reproductive rights. It offers policy recommendations designed to accelerate the pace of women's progress in achieving fair and equitable compensation for their work.

Between September 2001 and August 2002, researchers conducted a telephone survey of residents in the Philadelphia metropolitan area to determine public attitudes and priorities. The research team also interviewed leaders of women's non-profit groups, directors of community organizations and academic experts on gender and wage issues.

Barron said that the report definitively demonstrates that area residents are aware of gender inequalities and adamant that their public officials take action to remedy them.

"Women are in the work force in record numbers; increasingly their wages are crucial to supporting families," Barron said. "And yet women are still the ones who provide most caring labor. They maintain households and provide care for our children, elders, ill and infirm. For this they earn 75 percent of what male workers earn. Women should be rewarded, not penalized, for their singular contributions. It is time for a change." Copies of the report are available at:
http://www.sas.upenn.edu/wstudies/alicepaul