Uneven Economic Gains - Women Still Earn Less - And the Effect on Divorce

Overall, women remain segregated in low paying occupations, and occupations dominated by women are low paying. In 2007, nearly half - 43 percent - of the employed women in the United States were in 20 occupational categories, many of them the so-called "pink collar" jobs that pay less than industries that are male dominated.

Women spend more time in unpaid care giving of children, the elderly or disabled family members (particularly parents). The care and nurturing children, the elderly and disabled family members means women are more likely to work part time or take time off for the care of the family.

Pregnancy affects a woman’s career and educational opportunities more than man’s. The so-called "opportunity costs" associated with pregnancy are much higher for women, for whom an unplanned or mistimed pregnancy can mean curtailment of educational plans or derailment of career goals. Indeed, some statistics show that increasing numbers of high achievement professional women now elect voluntary childlessness.

In divorce, women are more likely to bear the cost of child rearing. Eight out of 10 custodial parents are women, and custodial mothers are twice as likely to be poor as custodial fathers.

High conflict marriages and divorces, those involving domestic and sexual violence, can push women into job loss, poor health and homelessness.

And despite the gains in access to careers and opportunities in the workplace, women are still paid less than men, even when they have the same qualifications and work the same hours. Women who work full time earn 77 percent of what men make - a 22 percent gap in average annual wages, according to the Center for American Progress. Discrimination, not a lack of training, is the cause. Even with the same qualifications, women earn less than men. This gap, however, has narrowed. For some 30 years the gap stalled at 59 percent.

So, while noticeable gains have come from the women’s movement, women’s rights and equity feminism, the improvement in lives of woman requires qualification. The cultural upheaval opened many doors for many women, but not all women have passed through them.



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TENDER YEARS DOCTRINE -- The "tender years doctrine," and what was called the “maternal preference,” presupposed that the relationship between the mother and the child was more crucial to a child's development than the relationship with the father. Since the 1970s, courts have become gender-neutral about child custody but in cases of contested custody mothers generally receive physical custody of the children.
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