In March of this year 24/7 Wall Street took on the daunting task of analysing the census records from 100 of the United States’ largest metropolitan areas to determine which US cities had the best, and worst, income equality.
It is incredibly disheartening to see that Tulsa was ranked 7th in the nation for the most disparity between the average incomes of men and women.
The report didn’t stop at saying that women earned 71.6 percent of men’s earnings in Tulsa overall. It went on to lay some heavy criticisms as well.
“Median earnings in the Tulsa metro area were 39,615 dollars, one of the lower figures among large metro areas. While gender pay gaps tended to be smaller in areas with low overall earnings, discrepancies between male and female earnings in most Tulsa occupations were exceptionally bad.”
Not only are we paying women less than men, for the same work, but we aren’t even paying our men well to begin with.
It would be fairly easy to stop here and wag our fingers at Tulsa business owners, but in order to have an impact we need solutions. How do we go from being bottom of the pack to at least average?
For now, let’s avoid addressing systemic sexism and look at some applicable solutions because it would seem that in the business world, Title VII laws exist, but haven’t done much to protect women from discrimination.
For whatever reason, how could Tulsa justify paying some people less than others? Although we can only speculate on the root causes of income inequality, and it is most likely true that none of these examples will account for 100 percent of the problem, there are certain barriers in our way as Tulsa residents.
One significant dividing factor is that Tulsa is primarily industrial. Many of our jobs are in construction, welding, transportation and oil, which are historically male occupations.
Additionally, “in business and financial occupations, where women outnumbered men, female median earnings equaled 68.4 percent of the male median earnings, nearly the worst such gap for this occupation,” the report said.
The reasons for this could include anything from discrepancies in levels of education, to the fact that women are more likely to take off work to care for their families. It’s very possible that the reason isn’t even one most people are conscious of.
There are not a lot of Tulsa-specific gender studies to draw from, but it’s very clear that our economy does not favor all of its citizens equally.
This isn’t a Tulsa specific problem either: Virginia Beach, VA, Colorado Springs, CO, Bridgeport, CT, Baton Rouge, LA, Bakersfield, CA, Youngstown, OH, Dayton, OH, Ogden, UT and Provo, UT join us in the ranks of worst cities for equal pay between men and women.
The real solution is to make ourselves consciously aware of the problem, so we can actively work to solve it.