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Pay Gap Is Widest in Top-Paying Media Industry Segments

July 31, 2006

Women in the highest paid sections of the communications and media industry face an average pay gap of $13,000 a year when compared to men, according to a new report. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research report, looking at non-supervisory full-time workers, found that the traditional wired telecommunications industry offers the highest pay but also has the highest wage gap. At 71 cents for every dollar earned by a man, women can hope to earn a median weekly wage of only $623 to a man’s $872. Women working in similarly high-paid wireless telecommunications earn around 72 cents for a man’s dollar. The gap narrows, though, for those who work in lower paying sections of the communications/media industry, with a non-supervisory woman in motion pictures earning 84 cents to a man’s dollar, rising to 90 cents in radio, TV, and cable. Internet service providers win out as the most equitable employers, with women earning 99% of men’s pay. The report found that women in non-supervisory jobs almost throughout the industry—newspaper publishing being the exception—earn more on average than in other U.S. industries. However access to high quality jobs is threatened by changes taking place within the sector, which take their toll on unionization. Traditional wired telecommunications is still the largest employer within the sector. In this long-time provider of work for women as customer service representatives or telephone operators, a strong union presence has ensured high quality work and pay. However, one in four jobs have disappeared since 1990, while lower paying segments fuelled by new technology rapidly catch up. Jobs in wireless telecoms have leapt by 433%, and Internet access and web portals already employ over a fifth as many people as “old” wired telecoms. Overall, say the authors of the report, the sector is “becoming somewhat less hospitable” for women. Women’s share of employment has declined in recent years, as their areas of traditional dominance shrink—a casualty of automation and restructuring. In fact, women’s presence has declined in all areas except newspaper publishing, the lowest paid segment and one of the most reliant on part-time workers. Areas such as sales and customer service remain heavily female, and women make up almost half of all newspaper journalists. Women are, however, underrepresented across the sector, making up only 10% of broadcast technicians or camera operators, and 33% of broadcast journalists. Women are just over half the managers and other professionals in newspaper publishing but only around a third in such positions across the rest of the sector. The communications industry study coincides with the release of a report by Catalyst, showing a serious under-representation of women in top management positions in Fortune 500 companies. While women make up just over half of the managerial and professional workforce of these companies, they represent only 37.2% of managers, and only 16.4% of corporate officers—a figure that drops to a miniscule 1.7% for women of color. Just 6.4% (145) of the 2250 top earners are women. Three in four companies have no women in the top-earning category. According to Catalyst, “progress has come almost to a standstill,” with women advancing up the corporate ladder much more slowly than in previous years. Because women hold only one out of every 10 positions intended to prepare employees for senior level management, the report suggests that serious changes are needed before the gender balance at the highest levels can be meaningfully addressed.
Tags: Economy

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