If more businesses allow employees to work on flexible schedules, then the pay gap between men and women will get smaller.

That was one of the main points Claudia Goldin, a professor of economics at Harvard and president of the American Economic Association, made in a speech on Saturday at the AEA's annual meeting, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Goldin's research uncovered that salaries for men and women were more or less equal at the start of their careers. The first signs of a gap appear five years later. For MBA's, the gap widens noticeably 10 to 16 years after graduation. At that point, "women earn 55 percent what men [MBAs] do," Goldin said in her talk. 

In a paper called "A Grand Gender Convergence: Its Last Chapter," Goldin cited three factors that account for the vast majority (84 percent) of the wage gap. 

  • Training prior to MBA receipt, (e.g., finance courses, GPA) accounts for 24 percent. 
  • Career interruptions and job experience account for 30 percent.
  • Differences in weekly hours are the remaining 30 percent.

How big is the current pay gap? "In 2012, women earned 76.5 cents for every dollar that men did," notes the Wall Street Journal, "moving no closer to narrowing a gap that has barely budged in almost a decade."

The Upshot

Roughly two-thirds of the "career interruptions" category stem from employees opting to take time out. And the primary reason women take time out is--you guessed it--their family.

Which is why Golden believes that "giving women the opportunity to keep working--on a more flexible schedule--would go a long way to narrowing the pay gap." 

How can employers introduce flexible schedules while still maintaining productivity? One of Goldin's tips was team buidling: Specifically, creating groups that share duties, reducing the impetus for individual employees to be in the building at set times. 


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