A Fair Wage


This lesson printed from:


Woman PowerDid you know that:

  • In 1963, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act prohibiting employers from paying women less than men for the same job? [NOTE: You can read the Equal Pay Act of 1963 .] But the reality is that while the Equal Pay Act prohibited discrimination against women in terms of wages, substantial pay disparities continue to exist.

In this lesson you will examine several resources that address gender equity to determine if these disparities in pay for men and women are indeed discrimination or if they are justified. At the end of this lesson you will be asked to form and justify your opinions.


In this lesson you will recognize that wages and salaries, determined by the supply of and demand for labor, are impacted by discrimination. You will also collect and review data to determine if there is substantial evidence that women earn significantly lower pay than men for work on jobs that require equal skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions. 


The issue: Are wages in the modern workplace "fair"?

Look at the infographic on Equal Pay from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Think About It:

  1. On average a woman makes $.78 on a man's $1.00. Diana Furchgott Roth doesn't think this is unfair. Why?
  2. Why do women traditionally have different work histories than men?
  3. Why do women traditionally choose different careers than men?

Is there evidence that women and men are paid differently?

Here's some data to review:

Median Weekly Earnings (2015) of Women and Men in 10 of the Leading Occupations for Women




1. Secretaries and administrative assistants



2. Cashiers



3. Administrative Services Managers



4. Registered nurses



5. Sales supervisors of non-retail staff



6. Bookkeepers, accounting/auditing clerks



7. Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants



8. Elementary and middle school teachers



9. Waiters and waitresses



10. Real estate brokers and sales agents



Median of All Occupations



Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat39.htm

Now, collect some information of your own. Use the following link to take you to a worksheet that you will be able to use to record your information and then print it to report your findings. A Fair Wage? worksheet

Use this .pdf on the Gender Wage Gap (Presented by the National Committe on Pay Equity, statistics from Department of Labor) to collect information on mean weekly and annual earnings for men and women. Complete the tables in your worksheet by gathering information on three occupations. Choose one occupation that you think of as a "man's job," a second occupation that you think of as a "woman's job," and a third occupation that is not one that is traditionally male or female, a job you consider "gender neutral"

Note: In order to complete the worksheet, you must calculate the yearly earnings from the weekly earnings given. Simply take the weekly earnings for the job you have selected and multiply that number by 52 to get a rough estimate for the annual earnings. (Remember there are 52 weeks in one year.)

Think About It:

  1. Do the data in the "10 of the Leading Occupations for Women" table support or refute the existence of gender discrimination in the workplace?
  2. Does the story about Marianne Stanley support or refute the existence of gender discrimination in the workplace?
  3. Does your research on the three occupations support or refute the existence of gender discrimination in the workplace?


  1. In your opinion, does gender discrimination exist in the workplace? Why do you believe this?
  2. In your opinion, should the government become more involved in pay check equality issues in the workplace? Why or why not?