“Go West, Young Woman?”: The Geography of the Gender Wage Gap through the Great Recession
Jamie Goodwin-White

Despite headline-grabbing accounts of the ‘Man-cession’ and childless metropolitan-dwelling

women who earn more than men, the gender wage gap remains persistent. However, the

spatiality of the gender wage gap has received little attention. I ask whether, where, and how the

gender wage gap changed with The Great Recession. Using American Community Survey

pooled surveys for 2005-7 and 2011-13, I model counterfactual wage distributions for full-time

male and female workers in the top 100 metropolitan areas of the U.S., controlling for education,

age, experience, and occupation. Gender inequality is polarizing spatially and across the wage

distribution, and the recession exacerbates this pattern. Gender gaps decline most in the Rustbelt,

but show relative increases in many Western metropolitan areas. Further, declines are mostly

amongst below-median earning workers, whereas increases are likely at the 75th or 90th

percentiles. Disproportionate returns to men’s characteristics explain much of these geographic

and distributional shifts. The combination of geographic and distributional analysis reveals a

more thorough picture of how gender inequality shifted with the recession, as previous patterns

of uneven development under economic restructuring are still evident. The analysis also

signposts regions of emerging gender inequality where relative gender equality is often

presumed, suggesting critical research directions for feminist and economic geographers.