The gender-wage gap closed every so slightly between 2013 and 2014.
But new Census data shows that with few exceptions, the two fields with the widest gender pay gaps—law and finance—made almost no progress in improving wages for their female employees.
The gap among all American workers now stands at 79.5%, the data show, an improvement from 78.8% in 2013. Financial analysts made the most progress, narrowing their pay gap 23.6 percentage points to 86.9%, the most among all occupations. Tax preparers, construction supervisors, photographers, and morticians were next, closing their gaps by at least 15 points.
But the bottom of the list in 2014 looked a lot like 2013's:
The 2014 gap for all legal occupations was 51.6%, while the average among the widest-gapped positions in finance was 59.7%.
Laurel Bellows, past president of the American Bar Association, told me the Census' figures are somewhat impressionistic, since they don't distinguish between full-time and part-time jobs.
Nevertheless, she said that the legal field now has a high degree of salesmanship involved (which is also why sales occupations are also in the bottom-10 list above). And studies have shown that women are at a disadvantage when it comes to being able to "eat what they kill" when winning business and clients, often because they are more likely to work part-time. She also said that women face challenges in negotiating higher salaries.
"Are women good negotiators? Yes," Bellows said. "But women are often labeled as greedy and aggressive and not team driven when asking for a well-deserved raise and bonus. Men who ask are viewed as strong and good negotiators hard workers worthy of consideration for an increase."
The ABA has implemented several programs to tackle these issues, including reaching out to firms' compensation committees to raise awareness about unequal female compensation, Bellows said. They are also strong advocates for legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act that would address iniquities.
As for finance, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), the industry's main trade group, did not return requests for comment. There are some groups trying to work toward closing the gap though, including the Ellevate Network, a professional women's advocacy group. Kristy Wallace, the group's president, said one reason for the gap is that the finance industry maintains a male-dominated culture.
"We've seen a lack of sponsorship for women in finance," she told me in an email. "Important conversations about your career often happen when you aren't in the room—comments about your skills or work ethic, for example. Cultivating a sponsor can have a big impact on your career trajectory including compensation.
"We tend to connect with employees that are most like us," she continued. "If the majority of senior leadership are white men, they are more likely to connect with other white men."
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.