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Women in America's Blue-Collar Communities Face the Biggest Pay Gap

The female working class earns a fifth less than men

A focus on vocational education in working-class towns helps men find good paying local jobs as manual laborers and machinists. For women in those same blue-collar milieus, it often means lower pay or no work at all, according to new Cornell University research.

In schools that emphasized work training versus college-prep courses such as advanced math, men were more likely than women to take the vocational classes, and thus, more likely to find higher-paying blue-collar jobs when they graduated, according to the study, which will appear in the August print issue of the American Sociological Review.

Women who do find such jobs earn 22 percent less than men, a gap wider than in white-collar or service-industry positions, according to the study. Gender gaps in employment and wages were widest among young men and women who attended high school in blue-collar communities.

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