Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

John Faine, James Grimm, Paul Wozniak

Degree Program

Department of Sociology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The earnings gap between men and women has long been a problem of interest to sociologists. Using data provided by the General Social Survey, this thesis addresses this problem by utilizing a causal model that conceptualizes the labor market sector as intervening in the relationships between education and income, and between the absence or presence of children and income among women. The impact of age on these relationships is also considered.

Women who have children and a lower educational level do not, it was found, make as much money and work more in the secondary sector than childless, better-educated women. The labor market sector was fund to be an important variable in terms of its impact on the relationships between educational level, the presence of children, and income. However, the labor market sector did not entirely mediate the relationship between the presence of children and income or educational level and income. Direct associations were found between the presence of children and income and educational level and income, but these relationships varied by sector and age. The presence of children did not effect the income of older women in the secondary sector, but did in the primary sector. Educational level did not effect income for either younger or older women in the secondary sector, but did in the primary. The relationship between educational level and income remained strong in the primary sector regardless of age group.

An additional difference was found due to age. Younger women were found to have fewer children than older women.

Previous research that has been conducted on women and the labor force was reviewed and critiqued and may be useful in more clearly explaining issues related to women's success in the job market.


Arts and Humanities | Economics | Labor Economics | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology | Women's Studies | Work, Economy and Organizations