The Pay Gap Between Men and Women Over a Lifetime



Today is National Equal Pay Day, and according to the national organization on pay gaps between men and women, the news is not good for women.  The difference between how much men and women earn in America, even when working identical jobs, is enormous, and women are on the losing end.

Most people already know that men make more than women, but when you see the difference in writing it is an eye opener.  Some estimates from research groups and a number of state and local agencies who typically generate the raw data, say that women earn somewhere between 79% and 85% compared to men, depending on which types of income and industries one is considering. The percent difference may not mean much to most, but in terms of real dollars a month in your pocket, it can amount to hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a paycheck.  Today, most things can be debated but the hard numbers do not lie.

One thing we know for sure is that for middle America, the gap gets worse as women get older and men make more money. The Bureau of Labor Statistics report from the last three years found that, for full-time working women between age 25 and 35, the pay gap in money earned per week is 87%.  If you then look ahead 20 years, women between 55 and 65 are only making 75% of what a man is making in the same job.

Most people will simply look at the difference in terms of a weekly salary or how much you make a year.  However, it is the accumulation of the pay gap that really makes clear the reality of lost wages for women. According to a USA Today study, using the same figures as just stated, a typical woman who works from age 21 to 70 will make $600,000 less than a man working the same number of years.  However, many women do not begin full-time work until well after age 22, and it’s much later in one’s career that they are able to complete with men for the same jobs, even though most employers surveyed believe women are equally, if not more qualified, than men.

There was a time in the past where women were expected to stay home and raise children and keep the home running.  However, today’s economy will not allow most families to have just one income.  The price of food, schools, housing and the increase in the lifestyle has changed everything.  Most families simply need two incomes.  Some studies show that they pay gap will eventually even out, but it will take time for the culture to change.  Another survey surprisingly showed that most men, welcome women making equal pay for the same job.

There are also upward trends in women starting their own businesses, which is a great contributor to income and wealth.  According to recent government statistics, the biggest surge in women closing the pay gap with men will be from women business owners.  There are many programs in place to help promote women own businesses.  However, they still most work as hard and as smart as their male competition in order to stay in business for the long haul.  Closing the gender pay gap will have to come from individuals, employers, and policymakers.  According to a Harvard School of Business study in 2018, women must learn to be better negotiated during job interviews, if they want to close the gap.