Closing the Gaping Gender-Based Wage Gap

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


It's been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law with an eye to eradicate gender-based wage inequity.

Because of the law, government employers are legally required to publicly post employee salaries, and a number of U.S. companies voluntarily engage in similar practices to encourage wage transparency.

But about 90 percent of the American labor force works in the private sector where most workplaces do not disclose wage information, and where many employers actually prohibit employee disclosure of their own earnings.

In 2013, despite the growing number of women in positions of power, full-time working women still make less than men on average.

As wage secrecy continues to exist, so does illegal gender wage discrimination and unjustified pay negotiations.

Joining The Takeaway is Marianne DelPo Kulow, Associate Professor of Law at Bentley University. She discusses whether mandatory wage disclosures could really close the gender-based wage gap. 

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Marianne DelPo Kulow

Hosted by:

Todd Zwillich

Produced by:

Cassie Jones and Megan Quellhorst


T.J. Raphael

Comments [7]

Male Matters from Michigan

Probably most women's pay-equity advocates think employers are greedy profiteers who'd hire only illegal immigrants for their lower labor cost if they could get away with it. Or move their business to a cheap-labor country to save money. Or replace older workers with younger ones for the same reason. So why do these same advocates think employers would NOT hire only women if, as they say, employers DO get away with paying females at a lower rate than males for the same work?

Here's one of countless examples showing that some of the most sophisticated women in the country choose to earn less while getting paid at the same rate as their male counterparts:

“In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” (See also

A thousand laws won't close that gap.

"Will the Ledbetter Act Help Women?" at

Jul. 04 2013 10:13 AM
NPR listener from sf

Incredibly bad form to ask your guest her salary.

Her point was not to broadcast salaries to the entire world, but rather to other co-workers.

This is the first time I'm listening to your show. Does not bode well.

Jul. 03 2013 03:52 PM
Jeff from Minneapolis, MN

Awful, I can't believe she wouldn't tell us her salary when she's the advocate of everyone doing just that!

Jul. 03 2013 02:49 PM
Treesa Newton from Portland, OR

Revealing the pay differential between workers only matters in jobs where women and men are competing for the same position. In other words, the information will only be "revealing" in jobs that are traditionally held by men, and in which women are finally making headway. I would find the reveal interesting, and I think it would give rise to necessary discussions that would likely force changes in the workplace. But that solution to wage inequality is too facile.

The real issue is appropriate compensation for the type of work performed. I have pursued two different careers, both typically held by women. Yet, I've always been the primary breadwinner of the family. Over time, and much research into the subject, what I've learned is that the world has changed and the job pay has not. I could not survive on the salary of the first career I chose because it would only support a young single person with no children, or it would nicely supplement the income of the other adult member of the family. By itself, it cannot support me and my family. What career is that, you may well ask? Teaching. A teacher has traditionally been a single woman, and more recently, a married woman (there was a time that when you got married, you were no longer allowed to teach). In those days, a single woman still lived at home, so her income requirements were modest. These days, we expect our teachers to be professionals, but we don't pay them as such, because traditionally, they just weren't paid that way.

My second "career" has been in administrative support. While what I do goes WAAAAY beyond the typical tasks of a "secretary", the role I'm in evolved from a formerly secretarial position. Thus, I am earning today's equivalent of a woman's salary from when only women held these types of support positions. So, I struggle to survive, to be able to support my family, and to not slide into debt. Why? Because I work in traditionally "female" jobs. When those positions become valued in the way that they should, and the pay reflects that value, then talk to me about comparing salaries.

Jul. 03 2013 01:42 PM

What a self righteous cowardly hypocrite Marianne DelPo Kulow is. She wants to tell everyone what to do - it just doesn't apply to HER.

Jul. 03 2013 12:58 PM
louise johnson

Trying not to laugh-found the conversation about disclosing pay in all industries interesting. the very end, I'm afraid the hypocrisy of your guest was all too apparent-a very typical, liberal , university type declining to disclose HER salary. And they wonder why the rest of the real world think they all live in an ivory tower. It boggles the mind, but now I am laughing.

Jul. 03 2013 12:02 PM
BK from NJ

Private employers should not have to disclose private business practices. If someone feels they are being paid less because they are a protected class (aka anyone but a straight white male under 65), you have recourse through NLRB, lawsuits, etc. You can't force people to open up their books for anyone. I know I sound like one of my hated right wingers, but having the government force open a private company's books sure sounds like socialism. And funny she won't disclose her own salary. Hypocrite.

Jul. 03 2013 09:47 AM

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