■ Metro Service
Fans of the CBS hit television show “The Big Bang Theory” may have learned that, in 2014, the five original cast members renegotiated their salaries to earn $1 million per episode. The original cast – largely male – includes Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, and Kaley Cuoco. Two actresses later joined the show, becoming mainstays of the comedy. However, newcomers Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch haven’t earned nearly as much as their co-stars for years. Recently, the original actors agreed to a pay cut so that Bialik and Rauch could earn more.
Unfortunately, the scenario that played out with “The Big Bang Theory” cast is not an anomaly. Whether in Hollywood or elsewhere, many women still earn less than their male counterparts.
Although the gender pay gap has been getting steadily smaller, women still earn roughly $.80 to every $1 earned by men in both the United States and Canada, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Statistics Canada, respectively. Women’s Policy Research says that, if current trends continue, females will not match males in pay until 2059.
Race and age also play a role in the disparity in pay between males and females, with Asian American women earning around 90 percent of what white men do, and Hispanic or Latina women earning about 54 percent of what white men earn, according to a 2016 report from The American Association of University Women.
The biggest wage gap by industry in the United States is in the financial and insurance sector. Even though women account for more than half of all employees in these industries, the BLS in 2015 reported that they earn only about $.60 for every $1 men earn. The industry closest to salary parity is construction, where the difference in pay is a few cents.
Some states are closing the gap faster than others. The AAUW policy analysts found that the states with the smallest gaps are New York, California and Florida. Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, and Utah are states with substantial gaps.
The news is similar in Canada. Updated figures, compiled from Statistics Canada data, show the pay gap exists in every province and in every major occupational group. Furthermore, the disparity in annual earnings between men and women has barely moved over the last 20 years, even as education levels among women have surpassed those of men.
STEM-based careers remain the best avenue for women to reach near-parity in pay, as science-backed careers seem to offer the closest in comparable pay, according to the BLS.
Although the gender pay gap is closing slowly, society still has a way to go before women are earning as much as their male counterparts.