Gender Equity is More than Equal Pay

In recognition of national #equalpayday, GrassrootsLab and California City News decided to take a quick look at some representation data on cities where women actually make more than men. That’s right, in California there are actually eight cities where women earn more than men. Last week we ran on a story on this issue from a report conducted by Nerdwallet.

We were hoping to find that these cities would provide a more promising road map of how to get California to a better place of equal pay, and equal representation for female city council members and city managers. Unfortunately, what we found wasn’t inspiring. In fact, the data suggests that the underlying factors that are seeing women earn more than men in these cities are problematic and may be contributing to a lack of women in elected office.

Most of the cities on the national list have menial incomes and high levels of poverty. In fact, just 6 of the 22 have incomes above $28,031—the national median in 2013. This suggests that women are faring better when it comes to low-wage work. Whether that progress will continue to translate to higher-paying sectors and areas, however, remains to be seen.

NerdWallet’s data was gleaned from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey in 2005 and 2013. While the study showed a persistence in disparity across the board, the researchers found the wage gap had improved nationwide since 2005.

The chart below shows that in the cities where California women earn more than men, the communities are often characterized by large minority communities, low voter turnout and few female local elected officials. Only two of the eight have female city managers - Elk Grove and Hayward.

Honoring #equalpayday is about more than gender equity – it’s part of the solution to poverty, civic engagement and more representative government.