Men and women are sorted into different jobs and jobs associated with women are paid less.
Below is a list of occupations and their average wages for 2007 from The Bureau of Labor Statistics. I picked out occupations that were rather straightforward (not a random sample, just an illustrative one), put them in order from lowest to highest, and colored them according to whether they are feminine (pink) or masculine (blue) occupations...
Parking Lot Attendants: $8.82
Child care workers: $8.82
Coatroom attendants: $9.18
Sewing machine operators: $9.31
Manicurists and pedicurists: $9.60
Home health care aid: $9.62
Stock clerks: $9.85
Security Guards: $10.85
File clerks: $11.06
Pre-school teachers: $11.12
Bus Driver (school): $12.43
Construction workers: $13.13
Dental Assistants: $15.17
Bus Driver (city): $15.94
Car mechanics: $16.43
Truck drivers: $17.41
Lisa draws three conclusions from her observations:
1. Occupations that are disproportionately female "cluster towards the lower wage end of this hierarchy."
2. Neither the difficulty of the job nor its importance to the community is the determining factor in how wages are set for each occupation:
Car mechanics are paid more than dental assistants. They require a similar amount of training, yet we still pay those taking care of our cars more than those taking care of our teeth.
And pre-school teachers are paid less than butchers and bus drivers. Is preparing our children for school less important than getting them there? Do we value the man preparing our meat more than we value the woman tending to our child?
3. In professions that have two distinct titles for males and females, the female equivalent earns less: "For example, maids are paid less than janitors and hairdressers are paid less than barbers."
Enlightening, isn't it?