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Miami-Dade Women Earn 15 Percent Less Than Men, Report Shows

Although female workers still earn far less than men do, research has shown the gender pay gap in the U.S. is slightly narrowing.

But a new report from Florida International University says the wage gap has actually increased in Miami-Dade County in recent years. According to the most recent data from 2016, women who work full time make 15 percent less than their male counterparts. The prior report showed a difference was only 13 percent.

"The growth in male earnings is outpacing the growth women are getting," says Maria Ilcheva, the lead author of the new report on women in Miami-Dade County.

In 2016, female full-time workers in Miami-Dade had median yearly earnings of $31,671, compared to male median earnings of $37,323. Dollar for dollar, that means women garnered just 85 cents for every dollar a man made. (It's worth adding that Miami-Dade incomes for both genders were significantly less than the national medians that year of $41,554 for women and $51,640 for men.)

Wage growth in Miami-Dade by gender
Wage growth in Miami-Dade by gender
image via Florida International University

The gap in pay can't simply be explained away by education or experience. In Miami-Dade, men and women have similar rates of educational attainment. Females here are also increasingly entering more lucrative industries. More than 37 percent of women with a college education have degrees in science, engineering, or related fields. Almost a quarter had a degree in business, a figure higher than the national rate of 17.3 percent.

Professional women still earn less than men with similar qualifications, however. Women in architecture and engineering earn almost 19 percent less than their male counterparts, while female attorneys make 47 percent of what men in the legal field earn.

Those figures show the gender pay gap is persistent for women in many occupations, not just in the lower-paying fields like education that tend to employ more women than men, Ilcheva says.

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"If women are getting more degrees in business, in law, in science, in engineering, and they see those gaps are huge in those type of occupations, it may discourage them to pursue those degrees," she says. "I think that’s something that needs to be addressed."

The FIU report also digs into salary data for Miami-Dade County employees. For full-time county workers, the pay gap is slightly more pronounced than it is for the general population: Men earn 16.2 percent more than women.

The paper doesn't address potential reasons for the gender gap, but national studies show bias, state laws, and the so-called "motherhood penalty" all play a part.

Ilcheva says she hopes to have a new report with more recent figures ready for April's Equal Pay Day. That's the date that symbolizes how far into the calendar year women must work to earn the same amount as men did in the previous year.

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