Gender Pay Gap Narrows, But Women’s Pay Still Lags Men’s | ETF Trends

For the sixth month in a row, wages for women grew at a faster pace than those for men. Data from the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s wage tracker show that women’s wages on average rose 4.4% in February from the year earlier, while men’s wages went up 4.1% during the same period.

A report from the Wall Street Journal notes that the gender pay gap has been narrowed (slightly) because of the U.S. labor boom. The pandemic temporarily shuttered several businesses in the personal care, food preparation, and healthcare support industries, and women made up a large portion of lower-wage service-sector jobs in these sectors. When businesses in these industries reopened last year, many struggled to find employees. So, they had to increase pay for their workers.

“This group of workers who experienced the worst disruption during the pandemic is now also experiencing the fastest recovery in earnings and employment,” Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, told the Journal.

Citing data from private research group the Conference Board, the Journal reported that roughly 31% of women who switched jobs during the pandemic received a compensation package that was more than 30% higher than in their previous role. That exceeds the 28% of men who reported a comparable pay raise.

But despite these gains, women’s pay still lags well behind men’s. Last year, median weekly earnings for full-time female workers amounted to 83.1% of men’s earnings.

One factor driving the gender pay gap is that women often occupy jobs that on average pay less. A report from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that women account for more than 75% of workers in eight of the 20 occupations with the lowest median weekly earnings, including hostess, housekeeper, and hairdresser. Women are also more likely than men to work part-time, making up 62% of part-time workers in February. Those jobs also tend to be lower-paying in such sectors as retail.

Those looking to invest in companies that promote gender diversity in the workplace may want to consider the SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF (SHE). SHE follows the SSGA Gender Diversity Index, presenting investors with a basket of companies with superior gender diversity in senior leadership roles relative to other companies in their sectors.

The six-year-old fund holds 191 stocks. Its components score well in terms of gender diversity in top management roles, including CEO.

SHE allocates almost 42% of its roster to technology and healthcare stocks, while the consumer discretionary and industrial sectors combine for almost 21%. None of the fund’s components exceed an allocation of 6.11%.

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