Dec 012003
Authors: Ben Bleckley

On average, for every dollar men earn, women make 76.6


The U.S. Census reported an almost $10,000 difference in median

annual pay between men and women in “Income in the United States:

2002.” Men’s annual median pay was $38,884 while women’s was


“The sort of stories that economists tell are that women make

different choices than men,” said Alexandra Bernasek, a professor

of economics and instructor of Gender in the Economy. “Frequently,

because of responsibilities for family, women are more likely to go

into part-time work, more likely to go into jobs that are more

flexible that allow them to maintain those family


She points out that there are critiques of this theory, however.

Some say societal discrimination – the idea that women are expected

to care for children and elderly relatives – causes women to choose

to leave work, Bernasek said.

Sarah Spain, an organizer with 9 to 5 Colorado, a division of

the National Association of Working Women, said this is a common

choice for young women.

“A lot of people are faced with the choice of being a good

employee and being a good parent,” and these people can also be

forced to balance the two duties, Spain said, Sometimes they end up

not working because they fear their work might take away from their

family responsibilities.

Although it is illegal for an employer to make inquiries into a

potential employee’s personal plans, women are often perceived as

less stable workers because they may take breaks to care for family

members, said John Marangos, an assistant professor in the

economics department.

“I don’t think that women should be punished for having a

family,” said Jennifer Peterson, a sophomore microbiology major.

“Women can bring a lot to the workplace; for one, I think the women

are more creative than men.”

Many women also may prefer to enter different professions and

specialties than men.

“Women tend to do certain kinds of jobs and men tend to do other

kinds of jobs,” Bernasek said. “Even within jobs. Women physicians

were disproportionately going into OB/GYN and that’s become an

almost entirely female area. The types of jobs women do or the

specialties they’re in tend to be lower paying as well.”

Women are also less likely to negotiate for pay than men,

Bernasek said.

The Career Center has resources to help students with starting

salary and benefit negotiations, said Brett Beal, associate

director for employee relations. Students interested should call

the Career Center at 491-5707.

To some students, these resources offer little comfort.

“I want to go to vet school and veterinarians don’t make a lot

of money to start with,” Peterson said. “But to hear that men are

making more money is not fair because we put the same amount of

work into our careers.”

Collegian reporter Christiana Nelson contributed to this


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