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Women Who Want Equal Pay Should Think About Becoming Pharmacists

(Photo: Ged Carroll)

We’ve written before about Claudia Goldin and Larry Katz‘s research on the persistent gender wage gap in the U.S.  Now Goldin and Katz are back with a new working paper (abstract; PDF) on “the most egalitarian of all U.S. professions today”:

Pharmacy has become a female-majority profession that is highly remunerated with a small gender earnings gap and low earnings dispersion relative to other occupations. We sketch a labor market framework based on the theory of equalizing differences to integrate and interpret our empirical findings on earnings, hours of work, and the part-time work wage penalty for pharmacists. Using extensive surveys of pharmacists for 2000, 2004, and 2009 as well as samples from the American Community Surveys and the Current Population Surveys, we explore the gender earnings gap, the penalty to part-time work, labor force persistence, and the demographics of pharmacists relative to other college graduates. We address why the substantial entrance of women into the profession was associated with an increase in their earnings relative to male pharmacists. We conclude that the changing nature of pharmacy employment with the growth of large national pharmacy chains and hospitals and the related decline of independent pharmacies played key roles in the creation of a more family-friendly, female-friendly pharmacy profession. The position of pharmacist is probably the most egalitarian of all U.S. professions today.

Unfortunately for women in other industries, Goldin and Katz conclude that the changes seem to have been driven primarily by structural changes in the industry, not a demand for more “family-friendly workplace amenities.” “The changes, moreover, do not appear to have resulted from legislation or anti-discrimination policy or licensing requirements or the regulation specific to the pharmacy profession,” they write. “Rather, a host of structural changes outside the realm of the labor market has increased the demand for pharmacists and reorganized work in ways that have made pharmacy a more family-friendly and female-friendly profession.”