[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 21-Aug-2011
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Contact: Tracy James
traljame@iu.edu
812-855-0084
Indiana University

Study: New job trends reproducing old forms of gender inequality

IMAGE: This is Youngjoo Cha from Indiana University.

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Jobs that come with large paychecks but long work hours are slowing the gains women have made since the late 70s in narrowing the gender wage gap.

A study by sociologists from Indiana University and Cornell University finds that the growing trend of overworking -- working 50 hours a week or more -- is partly responsible for the slowdown Americans have experienced since the mid-1990s in the convergence of the gender gap in pay. The gap between the percentage of women working full-time compared to men has shrunk during the past 30 years but the gender gap involving long working hours has changed little and remains large.

"Women, even when employed full time, typically have more family obligations than men," said IU sociologist Youngjoo Cha, who specializes in gender, labor markets and social inequality. "This limits their availability for the 'greedy occupations,' that require long work hours, such as high-level managers, lawyers and doctors. In these occupations, workers are often evaluated based on their face time."

Cha will discuss her findings on Sunday during the American Sociological Association's annual meeting in Las Vegas.

The study, using data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, finds the relative hourly wage of overworkers compared to full-time workers has increased substantially over the past three decades. Because a greater percentage of male workers are overworking, this change benefited men more than women.

"Gender gaps in overwork, when coupled with rising returns to overwork, exacerbate the gender gap in wages," Cha said. "New ways of organizing work are reproducing old forms of inequality."

More about the study:

Most of the decline in the gender gap in wages occurred in the 1980s. Women now earn an estimated 81 percent of what men earn.

Cha will discuss her findings on Sunday, Aug. 21, during a 2:30-4:10 p.m. session on Organizations, Occupations and Work at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. The co-author of the study is Kim Weeden, Cornell University.

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To speak with Cha, contact Tracy James, University Communications, at 812-855-0084 and traljame@indiana.edu.



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