According to a 2003 study by the US Department of Labor, women make 78 percent of men's wages on an average. It is, of course, an improvement over what women made in 1979.
The pay gap differs from race to race. White women make 78 percent of what white men earn, black women make 91 percent of black men's earnings and Hispanic women earn 88 percent of what their counterparts earn.
Although women earn less than men at all education levels, women are showing some improvement. The earnings of women with a college degree have shown a 33 percent increase since 1979, while men registered a raise of just 19 percent.
It is surprising to note that the pay gap is the largest among the highly educated groups. The reason for this, say experts, is that women aren't ready for competition. Most women don't apply for higher jobs because they feel they need more preparation and time for that. But those women who took a plunge are doing better than men.
Reasons for gender pay gap are complex and to some extent related to work and family choices. But it is clear that there is a tendency to underrate a woman's work and contribution.
All occupations show pay gap even where there are severe shortages attracting competitive salaries that can rope in top candidates. Female doctors earn 58 percent of their male counterparts' salaries. Even in women dominated fields like nursing and teaching, women earn less than men. Female nurses earn 91 percent and female teachers earn 87 percent of what their male counterparts get.
But the scenario in the legal field is encouraging. Female legal assistants get 90 percent of what men do. In the male-dominated engineering, women earn 92 percent of what men earn. In police and detective fields, women get 80 percent of their male counterparts.
In non-traditional careers like dentists, only 20 percent of are women. In the case of airline pilots and navigators, less than 4 percent are women. They can expect to have lifetime earnings that are 150 percent higher than those women who chose traditional careers.
According to many studies, women are more satisfied at work. Despite lower raises, fewer bonuses and fewer promotions, women are happy with their jobs.