The Monday Memo
February 18th, 2019 PITT DPT STUDENTS
Battling the Gender Pay Gap in Physical Therapy
The gender pay gap is alive and well in America. Despite women becoming the majority in the profession of physical therapy, women still get paid less than their male counterparts. According to data compiled in 2013 from the US Census Bureau, female PTs make 88% of what male PTs make. The APTA cited these statistics from the report:
Among the data related specifically to PTs:
- Estimated full-time year-round number employed: 136,392
- Male full-time year-round employed as PT: 49,118
- Women full-time year-round employed as PT: 87,274
- Median annual earnings: $72,260
- Median annual earnings, men: $80,411
- Median annual earnings, women: $70,509
- Women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings: 87.7%
There are a lot of misconceptions around the idea of why the gender pay gap exists. A few theories involve:
- 1) The fact that women tend to choose lower paying jobs
- 2) Women choose to work part-time
- 3) Younger, more educated women do not experience a wage gap.
According to The Washington Post, these theories are not completely true:
Claim 1: Women choose lower paying jobs
Explanation: This is not always the case. In the 2017 analysis from The Washington Post, jobs with more women workers pay less than jobs with more men. The top 10 jobs with mostly men pay an hourly wage of about $17/hour, while the top 10 jobs with mostly women pay an average of about $16/hour. Also, women don’t hold as many supervisor, manager, or executive positions which would be higher paying jobs. It is not correct to say that this is a choice for women, as equal number of women and men have aspirations to hold higher positions. Men are chosen to hold these positions more often. This is often referred to as the “Leadership Gap”, and is seen in almost every profession, from politics to physical therapy.
Claim 2: Women choose to work part time
Explanation: This isn’t always a choice. With America being the only country in the developed world not legally mandating paid maternity leave and child care being extremely costly, a lot of women transition to part time or casual positions to be able to still work and take care of their young children. New mothers in Finland are entitled to three years of paid leave. Parents in Canada are entitled to 12-18 months of paid leave. America entitles new parents to absolutely no paid parental leave. Many employers offer up to three months of paid maternity leave, but there is no reason as to why fathers cannot receive parental leave as well.
Claim 3: The gender gap doesn’t apply to younger, more educated women
Explanation: While the gap is smaller for those younger than 35, it still exists. Women are now more likely than men to hold a bachelor’s degree, however, when compared to men in every age group with 3+ years of college, women are paid less across the entire continuum.
So, how do we battle this gender wage gap that still exists in America? We can do a few things, including being more educated about our rights. While the Equal Rights Amendment has not been ratified, there are laws that require people to be paid equally no matter what gender they are, such as the Equal Pay Act. Also, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers cannot pay women less than men for the same work and they cannot refuse to consider women for promotions based on the fact that they are women. Even though these are laws, employers are still getting away with paying men more.
To combat these inequalities, we can encourage people to be more transparent with their salaries and try to reverse the outdated stigma that discussion of salary with colleagues is taboo or inappropriate. The hiring process for men and women should be on a level playing field and women have the right to ask what men serving in the same role as them are earning to ensure they are being treated equally. We can also promote the utilization of workshops for women who would like to learn how to effectively negotiate salary. No matter what gender you may identify with, addressing the wage gap is an essential step in promoting equality for all workers. By increasing awareness of this disparity and encouraging action by men and women, we can work towards a professional environment that provides the most benefits for all.
-Kara Kaniecki, SPT
G.V., X. (2017, October 26). Can We Talk About the Gender Pay Gap? Retrieved from The Washington Post.
Ingraham, C. (2018, February 5). The world’s richest countries guarantee mothers more than a year of paid maternity leave. The U.S. guarantees them nothing. . Retrieved from The Washington Post.
US Census: Median PT Earnings Nearly $10k Lower for Women than Men in 2013. (2015, March 17). Retrieved from APTA.
Washington Post: Female PTs Will Spend Last 4 Weeks of 2017 Working ‘For Free’. (2017, November 7). Retrieved from APTA.