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Pew survey finds pay gains for millennial women

Millennial-age women are increasingly starting their careers earning close to what their male counterparts make, but a survey released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center finds that this group of women still sees obstacles ahead.

The study, which examined the pay gap between men and women, found that women in 2012 started their careers better prepared than their mothers and grandmothers did. As a result, their pay was more in line with what men earned when they entered the workforce, according to data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.

Among workers 25 to 34, women’s hourly earnings last year were 93% those of men. By comparison, among all working men and women (16 and older), women’s hourly wages were 84% those of men.

The improvement in pay is largely due to rising earnings of women who are increasingly better educated. Thirty-eight percent of women 25 to 32, for instance, report having a bachelor’s degree, versus 31% of men. There’s also greater labor force participation among women and an increased presence in more lucrative jobs.

Though the pay gains are significant, researchers warn that women still face roadblocks in achieving and maintaining parity in pay over the course of their professional lives.

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“Recent cohorts of young women have fallen further behind their same-aged male counterparts as they have aged and dealt with the responsibilities of parenthood and family,” Pew researchers wrote. “For women, marriage and motherhood are both associated with less time spent on paid work-related activities.”

Women surveyed reported that challenges arise when they have to make choices about when to start a family. Motherhood often interrupts women’s career trajectories, Pew researchers said.

Pew said attitudes toward women in the workplace have changed in the last two decades. More women are represented in the ranks of managerial positions. The report’s release came just one day after General Motors named Mary Barra as its first female chief executive.


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