Equal Pay For Equal Work: Gender Pay Gap Smaller in Liberal States

Gallup released a study listing the top 10 liberal and conservative states with Alabama coming in as number on the conservative side and the District of Columbia topping the liberal charts. Geographically, liberal states tend to locate on the East and West Coast while conservative ones lean towards the South, Midwest, and Mountain West.

The survey concluded that America is now slightly more liberal and slightly less conservative than it was in 2011. But how do these statistics add up against social issues, in particular, the gender pay gap between men and women?

Research from the American Association of Women (AAUW) showed that in 2011, women earned 23% less than their male equivalents on average. In the study, the pay gap calculated in each state by the American Community Survey (ACS) relayed the smallest pay gap within the United States was in the District of Columbia where women earned 90% of what men earned in 2011. The largest pay gap was in Wyoming, where women earned only 67% of their male counterparts' earnings. Interestingly enough, Wyoming tied second place with North Dakota in the Gallup survey.

In Alabama, women only earned 74% of what men earned, coming in at number 44 on the ACS survey.

Out of the 10 liberal states listed in Gallup, eight states all ranked within the top 25 displaying the smallest pay gaps. On the conservative side of the fence, two states, Nebraska and Arkansas made the top 25 with gaps of 79% and 85% respectively. The conservative states of Utah, Louisiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Idaho, all fell within the bottom end of the survey. With the comparisons present, it is fair enough to say that the Gallup and AAUW/ACS studies both correlate with one another. Higher pay gaps between men and women are more likely to be seen in conservative states in comparison to liberal states. Why?

One major reason can be attributed to demographics.

According to Vice President of Education and Employment of the National Women's Law Center, Fatima Goss Graves, many people who work in Washington work for the federal government where pay gaps tend to be smaller than in private industries. Furthermore, workers in D.C. tend to be younger — age playing a role in determining how small or large pay gap sizes can become.

By contrast, Graves points out, Wyoming is a rural state, sparsely populated and dominated by traditionally male industries, such as coal mining.

Other male dominated industries to consider include agriculture where the industry thrives in the Midwest and South, most traditionally "red" states.

Senior economist Mike Montgomery for HIS Global Insights also said that states where men and women do similar jobs could have a much narrower gap because opportunities are more equal.

Regardless, gender pay gaps still exist even in areas like the nation's high-ranking capital.

There is the related issue of discerning the type of jobs women and men go into, and at how many work hours. Past studies have shown that when women with familial obligations take those into consideration when concerning their employment. Ironically enough, when it comes to part time work within the United States, women generally out earn-men overall.

Sadly, not every factor can be logistically accounted for and that in it of itself is truly the most problematic.

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Zainab Akande

Born and raised in New York City, Zainab is a University of Delaware alum, currently working on obtaining her M.A. in journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York. http://zainabakande.com/

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