Brookings Institution: Public schools heavily rely on women’s labor. Why do they pay female teachers less?

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In recognition of Equal Pay Day, The Brookings Institution published the following policy brief that summarizes the findings of their recent study investigating gender wage gaps among public school teachers.

The authors of this study used survey data from the National Teacher and Principal Surveys to provide unique insights into the different sources of school-based income for teachers. This data also allows us to “disentangle” labor supply from employers’ decisions to compensate them for their labor.

“Gender-based wage gaps are ubiquitous in U.S. labor markets, even in occupations where women make up most of the workforce. This dynamic extends to the K-12 educator workforce, where women account for roughly three quarters of the teaching workforce but make an estimated $5,000 less than men annually, based on a 2019 study using nationally representative data.

How does such a large gender gap in earnings arise in an occupation in which uniform salary schedules are used in the vast majority of school districts? Though gender-based inequalities in teaching are smaller than what we see in other occupations, they’re still worrisome and compel us to dig deeper into this issue. We wish to both better understand where wage gaps come from and what policymakers can do to mitigate them.

Overall, we find raw gender wage gaps of about $4,000 favoring men when combining all sources of teachers’ income from schools (using 2017 dollars). This means a 7% bonus paid to women only would be needed to fully equalize pay between genders, based on reported earnings in our sample. These gaps arise from differential compensation occurring both in base salary and in supplemental compensation teachers earn from schools.”

You can continue reading the full report and analysis of the data here:

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  1. Monica Thoune on March 21, 2023 at 7:14 am

    Yep. It happened to me in 2014. A male teacher hired the year before was offered about $3,000 more than what I was offered. Even though I had more experience, with an advanced degree as well as having completed two research fellowships at the University of Michigan.

    I’m happily retired now, with a thriving business that brings in two times what I made as a professional with a 32-year teaching degree. However, the salary inequity is real and I’m still miffed about it.

    • Jim Katakowski on March 21, 2023 at 8:07 am

      Women need to get rid of the ole white men who control everything about women. Now women need to vote against these folks that try to control even their bodies quite sadly. Time is overdue for equal rights to women.

  2. Nancy Daley on March 21, 2023 at 2:07 pm

    Reflections on my 28 year stint as a public school teacher (I’m retired):
    *Women of my era went sometimes into teaching because the schedule was compatible with motherhood. It was one of the few professions that allowed both. That is probably not as much a motivator in this era.
    *Men were the masters of scooping up as many supplemental contract add ons in education. They were the coaches, the drivers ed teachers, the before school and after school monitors and often had the big bucks bonus of being administrators. That added to the pay imbalance big time.
    *Compensation for teachers and support staff hasn’t kept up with the cost of getting that degree or the current cost of living. That has to be addressed. You can only love what you do for so long; you have to live on the wages too.

    Still proud of my profession, but there’s plenty of work to do.

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