Pay Gap Not Just For 9-to-5’ers

So, The New York Times allegedly paid Jill Abramson, its ousted executive editor, less than her male counterparts over the course of her career.

Abramson, 60, is hardly representative of the average working woman but it would not be surprising if she has experienced a pay gap.

Women have made tremendous gains since the 1950s but still earn just 77 cents for every dollar men make. (Source: Department of Labor, Office of the Chief Economist, analysis of BLS’ Current Population Survey).  Even when controlling for factors such as experience, education, industry, and hours, among others, the gap persists. The DOL estimates the male/female pay gap costs women who work full-time almost $400,000 by the time they reach the age of  65.

Moreover, women  are disproportionately represented in the ranks of low wage workers. The DOL says women comprise more than half of the 28 million workers across the country who earn the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.  Of the 2.8 million working single parents who earn minimum wage, more than 80 percent are women.  And women  pay more for health care. In the aggregate, the DOL says, women spend an estimated $1 billion more than men for equivalent health coverage.

President Obama has called on Congress to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour which, according to the DOL, would help a single mother pay for a year’s worth of groceries, or even 6 months of rent.

The Huffington Post reports that as executive editor Abramson’s starting salary in 2011 was $475,000, compared to the $559,000 salary of Bill Keller, her predecessor. Her salary was raised to $503,000, and—after she protested—was raised again to $525,000. Her salary as managing editor, $398,000, was allegedly less than that of the male managing editor for news operations, John Geddes, and her salary as Washington bureau chief was a hundred thousand dollars less than that of her successor in that position, Phil Taubman. The New York Times contends Abramson’s entire pay package was higher than Keller’s.

Owners of The Times claim Abramson was fired because she had poor management skills but she had been a manager at the paper for years.  A journalist with a healthy degree of skepticism would find it hard to believe that it was entirely coincidental that Abramson was terminated a couple of weeks after she hired a lawyer to look into why her paycheck was allegedly shortchanged over the years by America’s most prestigious news operations.

The first female executive editor of the Times,  Abramson achieved success in her profession that probably exceeded her wildest dreams when she graduated from college. The Times settled a sex discrimination lawsuit in the 1970s alleging that it refused to hire women as reporters except in the newspaper’s lifestyle section.  But many women in America  are still struggling, particularly single mothers who work full-time and yet are living in poverty with their children.