- Elberta McKnight For the AJC
Equal pay across genders is still vigorously debated across the country, including in Atlanta. Sometimes that debate is substantive, and sometime's it's a tech startup founder putting his foot in his mouth with a presentation that included the phrase, "Women: Like men, only cheaper."
In Atlanta, the pay gap shakes out differently because of the demographics. There are at least 80,000 more women in the metro Atlanta area than men. CityLab did the research in 2015. U.S. Census records confirmed that Atlanta has one of the largest gender gaps in the nation. But forget about how that might affect Atlanta's poorly rated dating scene.
Ladies, you make less. Payscale.com’s most recent survey found the average salary for a woman in Atlanta is $57,287. On the flip side, the average salary here for a man is $72,266. There's an hourly gap, too, according to the same study. On the average, a man makes $18.02 an hour in metro Atlanta, while a woman earns $16.94.
Curious how it breaks down by profession? So were we. Only, it's insanely tough to find detailed research that actually drills down Georgia's, or any other state's, pay disparity. Why? People don't like to talk about their salary.
In an article published in Industrial Relations: a Journal of Economy and Society, University of Massachusetts Boston Economics professor Marlene Kim points out that it's unlawful to prevent workers who aren't supervisors or managers from talking openly about their pay, thanks to the National Labor Relations Act. Yet, a vast majority of employers either have a formal policy or an unspoken rule for staff not to discuss pay. The subject hasn't gotten much traction in Congress, either. At least 22 bills have been presented to prohibit pay secrecy. Not one has passed.
Even still, we were able to pinpoint the national average of several gender-specific salaries by using a variety of online tools. Then we went to Glassdoor.com and PayScale.com to track Atlanta salaries. Here are a few examples of the pay gap in fields where it's strong (and some where it isn't):
On the national scene, there's not a big difference in pay for a male or female software developer starting out. Men, age 18-21, make about $15,543, while women earn $14,074. As individuals advance and gain experience, though, the pay varies. The national average for a male software developer, between age 41-50, is $110,069, while a woman, with the same job title and experience, is paid $85,345. Glassdoor.com, however, put the national average for software developers at $85,000 a year, and the average pay in Atlanta at $73,218.
Registered nurse (RN)
In Atlanta, nursing is dominated by women, according to Payscale.com. Entry-level RN's make an average of $24.73 per hour in Atlanta. Therefore, a starting salary will be about $50,000. Nationally, our research indicates male RN's earn six percent less than women starting out. However, that changes after a few years of experience. A man age 26-30 will earn about $55,566, and a woman in the same category makes about $49,924.
Human resources manager
On the national scene, a male human resources manager, age 36-40, earns an average of almost $85,000. That's 21 percent more than their female counterparts. The national average for a woman, with the same HR experience, is $70,328. In Atlanta, the average pay for a HR manager is $78,168, according to Glassdoor.com.
Elementary school teacher
The average rate of pay for an elementary school teacher in Atlanta can vary by $20,000, depending on the county and school district, according to Glassdoor.com. On the average though, elementary school teachers here make $50,649. That's higher than the national average of $46,967. The national numbers vary. Checking additional online sites, we found the national average for men in this field is roughly $48,007, while women earn about $44,489.
The gender pay gap in this profession was one of the most egregious we found. Nationally, men between the age of 26-30 make an average of $42,209. Women, in the same age bracket with the same experience, draw an annual salary of $22,025. Checking Glassdoor.com for an Atlanta average, we found $24,057.
This is another field with a significant difference. On a national average, men with around 20 years of experience in the financial industry earn an annual income of about $153,185; women, with equal experience, are paid an average of $81,787. However, according to reviews on Glassdoor.com, Atlanta financial advisors are apparently sorely underpaid. That site documents a national average of $47,380, and the average pay in Atlanta at $38,461.
The gender pay gap stems from a number of factors, any of which can disproportionately affect a single case. Education, experience, marketplace competition, job responsibilities and profession can affect the number. Several media outlets claim there are so many complications that the pay gap is a myth.
Ongoing studies by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) not only document pay inequality, but also found only 28 percent of the American female workforce believe they are paid as much as their male colleagues. IWPR also states if the current pay gap continues, Georgia women will not receive equal pay until 2055.
In addition, the organization's research shows 29 percent of the women working in Georgia are in low-paying jobs. Georgia's minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, the rate set by the federal government.View full experience