Connecticut Employment Law Blog Insight on Labor & Employment Developments for Connecticut Businesses

Connecticut’s Gender Wage Gap: Report Paints a Complicated Picture

Posted in Discrimination & Harassment, Legislative Developments, Wage & Hour

The Gender Wage Gap Task Force in Connecticut issued its report last month with both findings and recommendations on a continued disparities between what men and women, on average, earn. In doing so, it recognized that there are multiple factors that are responsible for the gap in its view.  It paints a far more complicated picture of the wage gap than some politicians suggest.

As it detailed:

Understanding this inequity is not a simple matter. 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. 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.

Mara Lee, from the Hartford Courant, does a nice job recapping some of the key findings.  Her take?

The report says that researchers have determined there are two reasons for that disparity: women don’t negotiate salary offers as often as men, and there may be subtle biases among bosses, even ones they don’t realize they have.

The report gives an example of a study of students graduating from Carnegie Mellon with master’s degrees, which found that 57 percent of men negotiated salary offers and 7 percent of women did. The men’s salaries were 7.6 percent higher than the women. And that $4,000 was almost the exact amount more that people who negotiated were paid compared to those who didn’t.

What might we see as a result of the report? There are a number of recommendations, but surprisingly few of them touch on changes to the legal system.

First, it suggests that Connecticut “align” its Family Medical Leave Act with the federal Family Medical Leave Act by expanding it to include companies with 50 or more employees.

If the General Assembly does take that up, legislators should consider narrowing the differences between the two statutes.  For example, Connecticut gives employees 16 weeks of leave over a 24 month period, instead of the federal 12 weeks of leave every twelve months, which can be confusing at times and leaves to strange results that allows employees to get 16 weeks of leave the first year and then another 12 weeks during the second year — far more than just the 16 weeks first contemplated under Connecticut law.

The report also recommends supporting paid leave programs, like those in New Jersey and California. Connecticut is currently studying various proposals.

Employers in Connecticut should remain cognizant of both the issues that this report raises and the legislative developments that may arise from it as a result.