Education does not solve the pay gap between men and women, data from the U.S. Census Bureau found, and the higher-paying the field, the greater the difference. That disparity is unsurprising to experts and advocates, who point to societal norms, policy shortcomings and inflexible working schedules as big parts of the problem.

The gender wage gap is the difference in median annual earnings of women compared to men, and, according to a report published by the Pew Research Center earlier this year, it has not changed much in the past 20 years. Pew found that in 2022, women earned 82 cents for every dollar a man earned, compared to 2002, when women earned 80 cents for every dollar a man earned.

The census data shows the gender wage gap persisting in every occupation, even if women make up the majority of workers. Although women make up the majority of social work, elementary education and family and consumer science degree holders, the small portion of men who do hold these degrees typically earn more than the women.

Women with degrees in higher-paying fields saw a larger difference in pay than those in lower-paying fields. For example, women with a social work degree earned $5,710 less than their male counterparts while women with an economics degree earned $22,550 less than a man with the same degree.

And the gap only widens when race and ethnicity are taken into account. Last year, Black and Hispanic women only earned 67.4 percent and 61.4 percent respectively of what White men earned, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

The idea that education is not enough to close the gender wage gap was echoed earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Labor, which found that the gap persisted at every level of educational attainment and remains even with women having more years of education than men. In fact, the gap worsens as women attain higher education. Data shows the median weekly earnings difference between men and women with less than a high school diploma is around $150, while the median weekly earnings among women with advanced degrees is around $450 less than their male counterparts.

Both Khattar and Schaller believe the right policies can be put in place to help tighten the gender wage gap. Khattar mentioned the lack of federal paid family and medical leave in the United States, noting that “means that there’s penalties associated financially with taking time off,” which impact women more than men. She also pointed to the Paycheck Fairness Act, which seeks to limit sex-based wage discrimination; developing pathways for women to enter high-paying jobs; and the Raise the Wage Act, which would set the federal minimum wage at $17 an hour.

“One of the biggest things that could be done is to increase the minimum wage — and that’s something that could be done at a state level and a federal level — because we know that women, particularly Black women and Latinas, are overrepresented in low-wage work,” she said.

Read the full article about closing the gender pay gap by Darreonna Davis at The 19th.