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Salary Gap: Most Lucrative Industries Pay Women the Least

The gap between what men and women make for performing similar job functions gets a lot of attention, and for good reason: Women made just 84¢ for every $1 dollar paid to men in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center.

The human resource firm TriNet has been documenting how small and midsize businesses stack up. The medium salary for female workers at small and midsize firms was 83 percent of the medium pay for men, according to a new report (pdf) from the San Leandro (Calif.) company.

Another discouraging finding: Women’s salaries are closest to men’s in industries that pay the least.

TriNet mined salary data since 2012 from its 9,000 clients, most of whom have fewer than 25 employees. Median salaries for men and women working in the retail sector were virtually identical, at about $33,000. At the other end of the spectrum, the median salary for women at small financial firms was $50,000, just 55 percent of the median salary for men. In tech, the median salary for women was 71 percent of the $105,000 median salary for men.

The TriNet report is based on salaries for just 240,000 workers and doesn’t control for work experience, education, job function, or other factors that could influence compensation.

There’s a similar trend at the top of the corporate ladder, according to TriNet’s data. The range in salaries with job titles that include vice president and chief executive was smallest in the tech and personal services sectors, the two industries where male execs make the least. The gap was larger in financial and professional services, where the median salary for men is higher.


Clark is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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