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Numbers Don’t Fully Explain Women’s Pay Disparity

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Robbie grew up in northeast Texas, in a tiny town where her fami...
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A new study out Monday says women in Texas are still earning less than men. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly income for women working full time in Texas was $619 last year, roughly 85 percent of the $730 median income for men.

But economists say, the numbers, in this case, don’t tell the whole story.

“Most of that difference in wages is explained by specific factors,” says Mike Davis, an economist at SMU’s Cox School of Business. “Women tend to pick occupations, that on general, pay less than men.”

Davis says women are also more likely to voluntarily separate from the work force – usually to raise children.

“So if you quit for five to six years to get your kids into kindergarten,” says Davis,” your wages don’t increase, and then you start back and you’re below the men that are in your peer group.”

Lindsey Durrett turned her business degree from Texas A & M into a successful career for a dozen years. Then came the kids.

“I actually thought that I would,” says Durrett, “when I was pregnant with my daughter, I thought that I would definitely go back to work.”

But, ultimately Durrett opted for a different set of demands and became a full-time mom. She says she has no regrets.

And neither does mother of two, Betsy Dixon. But, Dixon is keeping the possibility of returning to the workforce open.

“I have been able to keep my hand in it with some part-time work and that keeps me from getting so rusty and possibly when they’re both in school, I’d consider taking on more responsibility,” says Dixon.

Experts say keeping skills fresh is a good idea – because if anything, the salary survey is less an indication of gender discrimination, as it is a reflection of labor market demands.

“There’s a big premium for certain types of skills,” says Davis, “so people who have [a] college education, and very technical skills, computers, certain types of engineering, they’re getting paid really well, whether they’re men or women.”

Employment experts also encourage women who plan to re-enter the workforce to maintain memberships in professional associations, and use social media to network, network, network!

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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