Why do women continue to earn less money than men — approximately 20% less, according to some estimates — and

what can be done about it? At least half the pay gap reflects the fact that women tend to work in different kinds of occupations and industries than men, a phenomenon known as “gender segregation.” Understanding the causes of that gender segregation is a key part of any attempt to address the pay differential. Wharton management professor Matthew Bidwell and Roxana Barbulescu, a management professor at McGill University in Montreal, set out to understand the causes of gender segregation by taking a different approach than studies that typically look at variances in the kinds of jobs that men and women choose, or at the decisions made by employers during the job application process. “Much of the debate over earnings has focused on the idea that there are barriers to women getting certain kinds of jobs, and that a big part of this is due to subtle and not so subtle discrimination on the part of employers,” says Bidwell. “But most of the available data looks at the jobs women end up in, which reflects a series of decisions by both the employee and employer.” The challenge was to separate out data that deal primarily with how women view the employment landscape even before starting the job application process. Do those views, for example, lead women to systematically choose different, and lower-paying, occupations than their male counterparts? The two researchers analyzed data on 1,255 men and women entering the job market as they were graduating from a large, elite, one-year international MBA program. Such a group is far from representative of the population at large. However, “studying MBA students is particularly valuable for exploring segregation into some of the best-paid and most influential jobs in society, which are the kinds of jobs in which women have traditionally been under-represented,” the authors note in the paper. The researchers argue that each of those factors might be influenced by gender role socialization, which shapes our basic beliefs about the behaviors that are most appropriate for men versus women, and about the kinds of skills that accompany those behaviors. For example, if women are expected to play different roles in the workplace and at home than men, then they may also look for different rewards from their work, such as pay, intellectual challenge, flexibility, work/life balance and so forth. The most educated segment of women, for example, gravitates toward the teaching and nursing fields. Men with comparable education become business executives, scientists, doctors and lawyers — jobs that pay significantly more. Still, workers don't choose their industry in a vacuum. "Why do you think [male-dominated industries] are sex-segregated?" says Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. "Very often women aren't welcome there." Real or perceived, discrimination in certain sectors could discourage women from seeking employment there. A dearth of role models might,

as advocates who resist the characterization of equal pay as a zero-sum game are quick to point out. men accounted for 41% of the beneficiaries. When Iowa instituted wage adjustments to combat pay discrimination. How much longer can it possibly take for equality to arrive? .in turn. influence the next generation of girls to gravitate toward lower-paying fields. (And despite the earnings premium that comes with greater education. And considering that nearly 40% of American mothers are the primary breadwinner in their households. according to the IWPR study. creating an unfortunate cycle. Female workers earn just 38% of what men make — making the wage gap twice as large as the census figure. America's children would benefit as well. women with bachelor's degrees earn less over 15 years than men with a high school diploma or less. Women's wages have increased just half a penny on the dollar for the past four decades. Ensuring an end to discrimination would benefit more than just women.