New Report Documents the Persistence of a Gender Pay Gap at Federal Scientific Agencies

Dr. Husbands Fealing

A new study by researchers at the University of Massachusetts, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Toronto and the University of Minnesota, examines the gender pay gap in U.S. government agencies. Researchers analyzed 15 years of federal employment data from 1994 to 2008 for seven U.S. science-based agencies: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Energy (DOE).

The study found that the pay gaps at organizations such as NOAA and the DOE — agencies focused on traditionally masculine fields such as engineering and physical sciences — were largely the result of men being paid more than women for the same jobs. At more gender-neutral agencies — those focused on life sciences and interdisciplinary sciences — the differences were due to agencies systematically hiring more women than men for low-paying jobs. The study did find that the pay gap narrowed in the 1994-to-2008 period.

Kaye Husbands Fealing, chair and professor in the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a co-author of the study, notes that “our study shines a bright light on the persistence of earnings disparities between women and men, even when there is an appearance that the federal system is designed to avoid these pay gaps.”

Professor Husbands Fealing is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she double majored in mathematics and economics. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

The study, “Gender Pay Gaps in U.S. Federal Science Agencies: An Organizational Approach,” was published in the American Journal of Sociology. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/StudySTEM Fields


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