Amanda Teuscher

Amanda Teuscher is The American Prospect's managing editor.

Recent Articles

Why Are There So Many Different Gender Wage Gap Calculations?

What is the correct figure for how much women are paid relative to men? Is it 80 cents to the dollar? Or is it 83 cents?

The answer, it turns out, is both: There are alternative methods for measuring the gender wage gap, and a Wednesday panel discussion at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., focused on the myriad ways the gap shortchanges female workers. The event centered on a new EPI report entitled “What is the gender pay gap and is it real?”

“Different gender wage gaps are answers to different questions,” said EPI senior economist Elise Gould, a co-author of the report, during the discussion. “It doesn’t mean [the wage gap] is not real.” While 80 cents to the dollar reflects the median discrepancy for women working full-time, Gould said that EPI uses the 83 percent figure because it looks at per-hour wages and includes part-time workers.

In practical terms, that means that women’s median take-home pay amounts to $15.67 an hour, compared with $18.94 for men. Over the course of her lifetime, the gender pay gap costs the average woman worker more than $530,000 in lost wages. The lifetime wage losses are even greater for college-educated women, averaging close to $800,000. The wage gap reflects not just employers’ decisions to pay women less, the panelists stressed, but also institutional barriers and the work-life decisions that women make.

The gap tends to widen with education levels in part because of wage floors like the federal minimum wage, but also because women face penalties throughout their professional lives for having children or caring for family members. “Women can’t simply educate themselves out of the gender wage gap,” said Gould.

Nor can women simply choose different and higher-paying careers, agreed Wednesday’s panelists, who also included Sarita Gupta, the executive director of Jobs With Justice; Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research; and Latifa Lyles, the director of the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor.

Occupational segregation still contributes to large pay discrepancies across similar fields, and subtle gender discrimination can inhibit women from crossing over—Hartmann cited the examples of a female machine operator who could make $13,000 more as a welder, and a library assistant who could make $24,000 more as an IT specialist. Gould also noted that as women enter a particular field in increasing numbers, the pay will often decrease as the work becomes devalued.

One of the most consistently devalued occupations is caregiving, a field dominated by women and people of color. Gupta, who is also the co-director of Caring Across Generations, emphasized the need for a better “care infrastructure” that would help both low-paid workers and women who are unpaid caregivers to family members.

In the absence of better paid leave policies for both women and men, said Lyles, “a lot of women are going to have some reason to leave the workforce” in their lifetimes, and that translates into “lost earnings that compound over a lifetime.”

Better paid leave policies would also alleviate a barrier faced by women in high-profile professions that demand longer hours. “I do believe that these long hours were created to reserve these jobs for men,” Hartmann said. Gould added that the willingness to work late is often “an incorrect signal” for productivity.

The EPI report also highlighted the uptick in economic inequality since 1980, which is what primarily accounts for any narrowing of the gender pay gap over those decades. “The stagnation and decline of median men’s wages has played a significant role in the decline in the unadjusted gender wage gap,” the report states. Also Wednesday, Gould unveiled the EPI’s gender pay gap calculator, which tells users how much money they would be making in the absence of a gender wage gap, and how much they would be making if wages had increased with economic growth, as they in the three decades after World War II. For example, a 30-year-old woman with a Bachelor’s degree and an annual salary of $40,000 would be making $44,785 in the absence of a pay gap, and $64,420 if inequality hadn’t increased.

But regardless of gender, the conclusion was the same: “Had workers’ wages continued to keep pace with productivity, both men and women would be earning much more today.”

Photo Essay: Cleveland Protests

Protesters, onlookers, and police from around the country converged in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention.

(Photo: Kyle Johnston)
(Photo: Kyle Johnston) A protester on Monday night in Cleveland's Public Square demonstrates against police brutality holding toy guns. The name on his shirt, Tamir Rice, is that of the 12-year-old Cleveland boy who was shot by police by Cleveland police in November 2014 while playing with a toy gun in a park. T he Republican National Convention wrapped up on a calm note Thursday night, despite predictions that one of the most controversial party gatherings in decades would draw enormous crowds and potentially violent clashes between opposing groups. Cleveland had braced for the worst, bringing in thousands of law enforcement officers from across the country and using part of a $50 million federal grant to purchase riot gear, handcuffs, and other equipment. Along the way, the city was also hit with a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union, which charged that the designated parade route was too small and infringed on protesters' right to free expression. In the end, Cleveland'...

Immigration Advocates Speak Out in Cleveland

At a convention marked by anti-immigrant sentiment, organizers gathered for a “Wall Off Trump” demonstration and pledged to boost Latino voter turnout in 2016.

Amanda Teuscher
(Photo: Amanda Teuscher) Tania Unzueta of the group Mijente leads a rally in Cleveland's Public Square on Wednesday, after participants in the "Wall Off Trump" protest end their march by the perimeter of the Republican National Convention. F ear of illegal immigration has dominated the Republican National Convention this week, but outside the high fences and concrete barricades that surround Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, Latino and immigrant advocates have been making their voices heard. A high point for immigrant advocates came Wednesday, when hundreds of activists gathered for a visually dramatic “Wall Off Trump” demonstration. Draped in sheets painted with red bricks, activists formed a human wall of their own, linking arms and chanting pro-immigration slogans. It was a satirical rebuke to Trump’s campaign pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and to make Mexico pay for it. The demonstration, which drew broad media coverage, pushed back against the anti-immigrant...

Q&A: Liberal and Conservative Campaign-Finance Reformers Unite in Cleveland

As the Republican National Convention in Cleveland unfolded, a liberal former investment manager and a former Republican campaign director stood together to call for campaign-finance reforms.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images Morris Pearl, chair of the group Patriotic Millionaires , and John Pudner, executive director of Take Back Our Republic , took the stage on the “speaker’s platform” set up in Public Square, a few blocks from where the convention was being held at Quicken Loans Arena, and spoke about the need for reducing the influence of money in politics. Pearl was a managing director at BlackRock, one of the largest investment firms in the world, before turning full-time to campaign-finance reform work two years ago. Pudner spent decades as a Republican campaign strategist, having worked most recently on the campaign of Dave Brat who unseated then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, despite being outspent 26 to 1. Both Pearl and Pudner sat down with The American Prospect in Cleveland to discuss their shared effort to reform the U.S. campaign-finance system. This interview has been edited and condensed. T he Prospect : How are Republicans responding to your call...

Cleveland Protests Begin on Peaceful Note

Cleveland’s historically aggressive police force, under a consent decree from the Justice Department, is on alert—but so far, protests by residents and local activists have remained peaceful and calm.

Amanda Teuscher
(Photo: Amanda Teuscher) Participants of the "Circle the City with Love" protest on a mile-long bridge in Cleveland, numbered in the thousands, spanning the entire mile-long bridge. E ven before the Republican National Convention came to town, and before a string of racially charged shootings in Baton Rouge and around the country, the majority-African American city of Cleveland was grappling with the issue of police violence against black men. The Cleveland Police Department is currently under a consent decree from the Justice Department, after a federal investigation found that its officers had a history of “unnecessary and excessive use of deadly force.” The investigation followed the November 2014 shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in a Cleveland park, among other incidents. Cleveland residents voice mixed feelings about whether widespread fears of convention violence are overblown, but the police department isn’t taking any chances. The city has supplemented its regular...

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