White Males Still Earn Considerably More Than Women, Minorities

03/28/2008 02:46 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Wall Street Journal

At a time when Americans are congratulating themselves for having a diverse field of political candidates, its business leadership still doesn't equally value diverse employees and managers. In fact, progress for women and minorities in both pay and power has stalled or regressed at many of the U.S.'s biggest companies. This inequality shapes perceptions about who can or should be a leader.

More than 40 years after job discrimination was outlawed in the U.S., the wage gap between white men and just about everyone else persists. The one exception is Asian-American men, whose median wages were just 1% less than those of white men who worked full-time, year round, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey in 2005, the latest year for which this data are available.

Black men, by contrast, earned 74% of the wages of white males; Hispanic men earned 58%.

Women, overall, are substantially lagging behind men in pay. Fulltime female employees earned 77% of all men's median wages. Breaking it down in terms of race, Asian-American women earned 78% of the median annual pay of white men; white women earned 73%; black women, 63%; and Hispanic women, 52%.

There are, of course, many theories about the reasons behind the pay discrepancies. Women may take time off to care for children so they don't build up the tenure that leads to promotions and higher salaries, or they don't demand raises as often as men do because they've been socialized not to be assertive, or they don't have the right skills for the best-paying jobs.

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