Birmingham ranks third in the nation for closing the gender pay gap. this is why

Between 2017 and 2021, women in Birmingham went from earning 76 cents for every dollar a man earns to 96 cents, according to a study published this month by financial technology company SmartAsset.

While the study results show the city still has a pay gap, it also ranks Birmingham third on a list of cities striving to close that gap.

The number two spot went to Oceanside, California, where the gap decreased by 23.22% in the same period. The number one spot went to Hollywood, FL, where the gap narrowed by 26%, actually leaving women earning 4.76% more than men on average, according to the SmartAsset study compiled from of census data.

According to the study, the 20-cent, or 19%, wage increase for Birmingham women exceeds the national average of just 0.69% over the same period and represents an average annual wage increase of nearly 30%.

Victoria Gordon, a UAB assistant professor of political science and public administration who researches economic development and human resources, said Birmingham’s success in narrowing the gap could be attributed, in part, to the career options on offer. .

UAB has been the largest employer in the metropolitan area since 1992 and recently published an impact study by economic development consultancy Tripp Umbach that said one in 20 jobs in Alabama is held by a UAB employee or has system support.

According to Gordon, a great medical/university resource like UAB contributes to closing the pay gap by prioritizing equal pay.

“Mainly, it all comes down to the commitment of organizations: hospitals, universities are two places where training and education are valued equally among men and women. If you think about the medical/nurse shortages during Covid, it makes sense that large organizations should support pay equity because people can move on if they are not valued.”

Gordon added that the attitudes of women in Birmingham could be another driving force.

“As for Birmingham, even though I’ve only been here two years, what I see in my postgraduate students is that there is no lack of confidence in young women,” Gordon said. “They are ready to take on significant roles in the public, private and non-profit sectors.”

Gordon said Birmingham’s progress may also reflect positive post-COVID wage trends across the country.

“Based on my experience… I would suggest that COVID changes in the workplace are an important part of the response,” Gordon said.

“First, for example, women working in the home means that they may be in a better position to take on roles/positions that they might not have before increased flexibility in schedules, a greater distribution of caregiving responsibilities, etc

Second, the Covid changes in the workplace also mean that women were not ‘penalized’ for changing jobs. I used to tell my students to stay for at least two years before moving on, but that advice is no longer relevant. Workplaces are still looking for the best employee and are willing to pay to get that person,” Gordon said.

”Third, women are more informed about pay equity, how to negotiate higher salaries, etc. Women are smarter than they could have been to ask for what they need. Finally, as more women move up through senior management positions in the workplace, they are in a better position to support the hiring of women. If women are at the table, they have a voice and that means a better deal for everyone.”

Gordon, after what he called “a very cursory review” of the study, agreed with what he read.

“The authors of the report affirm that the information/data analyzed comes from the US Census Bureau, and I have confidence in their data collection and methodology. The reported results indicate and support favorable outcomes for Birmingham and this is a welcome and pleasant surprise.”

After verifying the results of the study, the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) said the city has made progress over the last five years. But, the BBA said, the region as a whole still has a “long way to go.”

“As the economic development agency of the Greater Birmingham Region, we focus our efforts on attracting and creating living wage jobs,” said a BBA statement sent to a reporter with Lede this week.

”Our work is driven by a belief in building a better and stronger economy and increasing the quality of life for Birmingham individuals and families. While the praise is great and progress has been made, we caution readers to refrain from placing too much emphasis on the data because we still have a long way to go as a region.

“Overall, our data shows a year-over-year increase in women in the workforce in many high-paying industries, such as technology, law, and life sciences. This could be for a number of reasons ranging from an increase in women’s post-secondary education attainment to more women taking on management roles in these industries.”

The BBA recognized the tech industry, one of the highest-paying target industries in the region, saying that due to “the efforts of programs like Innovate Birmingham and the Magic City Data Collective, Birmingham’s tech talent pool is stronger than ever.” .

“We only get stronger as a community when we all work together. Organizations like the Alabama Women’s Foundation deserve a lot of credit when it comes to promoting policies that create a more equitable economy, the statement read.

“In addition, the successes of the City of Birmingham Guaranteed Income Pilot Program, as well as the recent Good Jobs Challenge Grant, further enhance our community’s ability to grow and maintain great jobs and talent here.”

After reviewing the SmartAsset study, a representative from the Alabama Women’s Foundation, a local nonprofit, agreed that the region and the state as a whole could only benefit from even greater efforts to close the gap.

“Research by the Women’s Foundation of Alabama has found that the state’s gender pay gap is the result of many factors, including occupational segregation, low labor force participation, the ‘maternity penalty,’ and long-lasting impacts of past discriminatory practices,” said Rachel Bunning, vice president of External Affairs for the Alabama Women’s Foundation.

”While the wage disparity can vary by city, the truth remains; the impact of closing the wage and labor participation gaps in Alabama would be transformational. As noted in our most recent Clearing the Path research report, achieving wage parity in Alabama is estimated to create 59,000 new jobs, generate $15 billion in new revenue, and grow the state’s economy by up to $22 billion.”

According to its website, the Clearing the Path report was delivered to the Alabama state legislature in December by the Alabama Task Force and the Pay Gap Task Force, chaired by the executive director of the Alabama Women’s Foundation, Melanie Bridgeforth.

Recommendations in the Women’s Foundation report included strengthening equal pay protections, investing in child care to support and grow Alabama’s workforce, and strengthening the workforce development pipeline for women and girls.

“When the path is cleared for women to reach their potential, families and communities thrive,” Bunning said.


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