Connecticut ranks 25th in gender wage gap in U.S.

Women in Connecticut earn about 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap that ranks the state 25th in the United States, according to a task force report issued Tuesday that suggests no easy solutions to equalizing pay.

“Understanding this inequity is not a simple matter,” the report said. “Many factors contribute to the overall wage gap including education and skills, experience, union membership, training, performance, hours worked and the careers women and men choose. However, even after these factors are controlled for, an estimated wage gap of 5-10% remains.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy created the task force nine months ago, appointing Labor Commissioner Sharon Palmer and Catherine Smith, the economic development commissioner, to study the factors that contribute to the wage gap.

“The task force has identified six key contributors to the gender wage gap in Connecticut: unconscious bias, occupational segregation, lower starting salaries and positions for women, women’s slower career advancement, the existence of a glass ceiling and a lack of support for working families,” the report said.

The task force acknowledged that reasons for pay differences are many.

“To better understand the gender wage gap, it must be adjusted for ‘explanatory factors’ including hours worked (full-time, part-time, seasonal, and year-round), years of relevant experience, skills, education level, occupation and union status,” it said.

Comparisons of pay data for men and women in Connecticut are difficult.

The state Department of Labor collects average and monthly new hire earnings by broad sectors without differentiating between occupations in those sectors or full-time and part-time work.

But some findings point to discrimination: Relative wages in professional fields tend to be depressed as they are dominated by women.

“Even in occupations where women make up the majority, they are still paid less than men. In Connecticut, women account for 68% of employees in education, training or libraries, but earn only 80% of what men in the same occupation earn,” the report said. “The outlook is better for female healthcare support professionals where women make up 86% of the total employees and earn 97% of what men earn, yet the inequity still persists.”

The full report is available online.