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Study: Big gender pay gap in parts of Chicago area

Manufacturing jobs Northwest Indianare predominently filled by men. | File~Sun-Times Media

Manufacturing jobs in Northwest Indiana are predominently filled by men. | File~Sun-Times Media

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Indiana Pay Gap

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, Indiana’s 1st Congressional District helps bring the state’s average women’s salary down to 75 percent of men’s salary, 2 percentage points lower than the nation average of 77 percent. How Indiana’s other congressional districts compare:

1st District 67 percent

8th District 74 percent

3rd District 75 percent

4th District 75 percent

2nd District 78 percent

6th District 78 percent

9th District 79 percent

7th District 90 percent

Updated: November 30, 2012 6:27AM



Congressional districts in the southwest suburbs and northwest Indiana were among the 10 worst for pay disparity nationally between women and men, according to a study.

Illinois’ 13th district ranked as the sixth-worst, while Indiana’s 1st district was the seventh-worst among all 435 congressional districts, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families Women. Women in the Illinois district made 67 percent of what men make, an average of $22,774 less a year, the study said.

In the Indiana district, women made an average of $17,330 less than men.

The worst in the country was Louisiana’s 3rd district, where women earn an average of $19,479 less than men.

Sarah Crawford, director of workplace fairness with NPWF, said the data show the pay gap between men and women remains a problem.

Amy Atchison, assistant professor of political science and international relations at Valparaiso University, said Northwest Indiana’s manufacturing economy likely is an influence. Manufacturing jobs are usually some of the best-paying jobs because of unions, but most of the jobs are held by men.

“What jobs does that leave for women?” Atchison said. “Usually lower-paying service jobs.”

Those jobs tend to be dominated by women, she said.

She noted other congressional districts that make up the top 10 worst in pay gap also have a predominance of male-dominated jobs. For instance, Atchison said, one district in Louisiana is known for its shrimping industry. Its other big industry is service.

A district in West Virginia that made the top 10 includes a coal mine, which again likely offers high-paying jobs mostly filled by men.

Elizabeth Gingrich, a lawyer and associate professor of business law at VU, pointed to “lots of divorces” in the district as also possibly playing a role. Gingrich said single mothers who have stable jobs with health benefits are often hesitant to draw attention to any wage gap for fear they would be punished.

“She’s not going to stir up any kind of trouble,” she said.

Although Northwest Indiana’s pay gap is likely attributable to the different jobs its men and women hold, studies show the pay gap still exists for men and women with the same jobs and backgrounds, meaning a female banker will make less on average than a male banker, Crawford said. That holds true even in some female-dominated industries, such as nursing.

One of the reasons women don’t make as much is because employers will often use the “mommy tax” or dinging a female employee because she will likely take time off in the future to have a child or care for her family, Atchison said.

“It’s not a massive conspiracy against women, but the market doesn’t reward gaps in employment,” she said. “Without any conscious thought, men are advantaged over women from the get-go.”



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