Why Alaska women earn less and what they can do about it
In Alaska, a statute prohibits employers from paying females less than males for the same work. But there’s still a pay gap – for every dollar a man in Alaska earns, a woman earns roughly 67 cents.
State Labor Economist Caroline Schultz says occupation and industry selection is the main reason behind the pay gap.
Engineers make some of the highest salaries in Alaska, but only 18 percent of them are women. They’re making on average $72,000 a year while their male counterparts make close to $96,000.
Supervisors in oil, mining and construction industries also make high salaries. Only 5 percent of them are women, and on average they earn less than half what men make in the same position. These 2012 figures from the Department of Labor represent total annual earnings and don’t distinguish between full- and part-time work.
Schultz says work flexibility is another factor in the gender pay gap. Alaska has a predominance of jobs in natural resources, often in remote work sites.
“That can sometimes be more of a challenge to women, because women traditionally take on a larger burden when it comes to family care. So, you know, if they need to leave early to pick up the kid from school, a woman is more likely to take a flexible job, maybe that pays a little bit less, than a man is,” Schultz says.
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