Equal Pay Day occurred this week — on April 10th. This day was created to draw attention to the gender wage gap. It’s not a random date — it symbolizes how long women must work into 2018 to make the same amount men made in 2017. Women’s median annual earnings remain about 20 percent below men’s. Why is progress stalling?
Growing up, most principals and school administrators were men. My father started as a teacher, became a counselor, then a middle school principal, and finished his career as a high school principal. My mother taught first grade and coordinated the Head Start program. Both took early retirement about 59. As they move up, their pay increased and they earned a generous pension. Our family struggled financially when we were young, but my parents retired comfortably. Education was a promising career — back then.
Bad for Women; Disastrous for Men
Today, the field is dominated by women. Pay is relatively worse. New research suggests work done by women simply isn’t valued as highly. This is bad for women, but disastrous for men — as men are now discouraged from pursuing careers in education. As I wrote previously, men simply aren’t wanted anymore, and this is causing men, particularly, White males, to become increasingly angry with the feminist movement. I summarized males and females in Albuquerque middle and high schools. Some 55 percent of high school principals are now female, along with 59% of middle school principals. Assistant principals and advisors are more likely to be women. Support staff are nearly all female.
A landmark study from researchers at Cornell University found the difference between occupations and industries in which men and women work has become the single largest cause of the gender pay gap. In a related study, researchers discovered when women enter fields in greater numbers, pay declines — for the same jobs men were doing before. As women moved into occupations in large numbers, those jobs began paying less even after controlling for education, work experience, skills, race and geography.
Education Week released its Quality Counts 2018 Report and New Mexico moved one spot further down to 50th this year. This report grades and ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Annual KIDS COUNT Data Book 2017, published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranked New Mexico 49th out of 50 states for child well-being.
WalletHub also ranks each state as well as the District of Columbia. New Mexico came in 44th for teachers. New Mexico ranked 50th, out of 51, when it came to drop out rate and lowest reading test scores, and 49th in lowest math scores. The study also suggested 84 percent of the state’s teachers have inadequate pensions, ranking New Mexico 42nd.
Including other rankings that focus on poverty, especially childhood poverty, New Mexico ranked poorly at 48th. Associated Professor of Educational History at the College of Charleston Jon N. Hale said financial issues are a big problem for teachers. “Teachers are not compensated as professionals, and in fact earn only approximately 83 percent of what accountants or registered nurses, and less than 50 percent of what lawyers earn,” he said.
Education is the starting block for all of us. Teachers deserve to be paid commensurate with the professional contributions they make in America and the industry needs to stop discouraging men to pursue education careers.