Although Equal Pay Day is April 10, we're continuing the conversation all month long on MyDomaine.
Jenna* is a recent college graduate who is generally happy with her job at a media company. When she was chatting with one of her male co-workers, Jenna discovered she earned significantly less than he did, despite having more experience and sharing almost identical titles and job descriptions. Shocked and angry, she brought the issue to her HR department and nearly doubled her salary, bumping it up from the $40K range to $80K. Experiences like this are far more common than we think. In fact, The National Center of Law finds that gender wage gap exists in 98% of occupations, transcending industry.
And while the idea of wage gap statistics feels dry or abstract, the truth is that they're definitely not arbitrary. Indeed, the numbers stand as proof of the ways in which norms and expectations around certain identities, whether conscious or not, shape the way labor is valued over others. In order to understand why the gender wage gap actually matters in our own lives and how we can turn things around, we decided to unpack the numbers and break them down by different factors, ranging from race to age, sexuality, and more, and how each of the findings actually informs our day-to-day lived experiences. So if you want to get a better understanding of how wage gap statistics impact our lives and how we can close the gap, read on.
Ed. Note: Unless otherwise noted, all quotes below are from the National Women's Law Center. Findings were published in the fall of 2017 based on the 2015 census.
The Wage Gap for WOMEN OF COLOR
At a Glance: "Black women working full-time, year-round typically make only 63¢ for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts. For Latinas this figure is only 54¢, for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women it is 59¢, and for Native women, it is 57¢."
The Takeaway: The double burden of racism and sexism impacts women of color in a multitude of ways, financially and beyond. Not only is it harder for women of color to get hired, but they are also offered lower salaries and lower hourly rates for the same work, across industries, low-wage or high-wage jobs, and education levels. This harms economic security, family incomes, and more.
What the Wage Gap Means for Latina Women: "Over the course of a 40-year career, the typical Latina loses $1,043,800. This means Latinas need to work for 74 years to earn what white, non-Hispanic men earned in just 40 years." This means she'd have to work until she was 94 years old to catch up.
What the Wage Gap Means for Native Women: Though it varies by tribe and region, "The typical Native woman loses a staggering $960,280 to the wage gap. Assuming she and her white, non-Hispanic male counterpart begin work at age 20, this huge wage gap means a Native woman would typically have to work until she is nearly 90 years old to catch up to what a white, non-Hispanic man has been paid by age 60."
What the Wage Gap Means for Black Women: "Over the course of a 40-year career, the typical black woman loses a staggering $840,040 to the wage gap. Assuming she and her male counterpart begin work at age 20, a Black woman would typically have to work until she is 83 years old to catch up to what a white, non-Hispanic man has been paid by age 60."
What the Wage Gap Means for Asian Women: It's important to address the intragroup differences for Asian women in regards to the wage gap. For example, "Burmese and Fijian women make 44% and 45% respectively of what white, non-Hispanic men make. Hmong and Cambodian make 55%" while Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Indonesian, Thai, Bangladeshi, Hawaiian, Vietnamese, and Laotian women make a little under 80%. On average, the Asian women lose "$349,320 to the wage gap over a 40-year career. This means Asian women have to work more than 47 years to make what white, non-Hispanic men were paid in just 40 years."
The Wage Gap for WORKING MOTHERS
What This Means: According to The National Women's Law Center, mothers with partners earn about 71¢ for every dollar a white man makes, while single mothers earn 76¢ for every dollar a white man makes, and the same ratio applies to never-married women without children. As the American Association of University Women explains, "With 42 percent of U.S. mothers as primary breadwinners, closing the gap would mean supporting more contributors to a healthy national economy" as well as decreasing overall poverty rates. Considering that women's income is increasingly important to family's income, these stats are even more troubling. This refers to the concept of the "maternal wall," which you can learn more about here.
The Wage Gap for LGBTQ LABORERS
Behind the Stat: In the Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy, researchers compared the work experiences of male-to-female individuals to female-to-male individuals. They found that "average earnings for male-to-female transgender workers fall by nearly 1/3," while average earnings stay the same or increase for female-to-male transgender workers. These findings provide unique insights into the wage gap, proving that women-presenting people are offered lower salaries on average, while nonbinary and gender fluid individuals also experience the wage gap. The findings show that identity factors (in this case, gender), radically changes one's experience and treatment.
Other Findings About Wage Gap for LGBTQ Laborers: "It remains legal for employers to discriminate in hiring, compensation, and promotion on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation in 28 states and gender identity in 30 states," which led researchers to examine the step before the wage gap can even occur: the hiring process. "Resumes with the LGBT indicator had an employer response rate of 12% while resumes without the indicator had a response rate of 17%. In other words, employers were about 30% less likely to request an interview or further information from a woman perceived as LGBTQ compared to one perceived as heterosexual," found a study by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
The Wage Gap for Various OCCUPATIONS
The Major Takeaways: There is no industry that has achieved equal pay. As the NWLC explains, "Women make up about 47% of the overall workforce, yet make up 58% of the low-wage workforce, and they make up an overwhelming 69% of the very low-wage workforce" and "women make up only 35% of workers in high-wage jobs." This speaks to both the wage gap and the opportunity gap, meaning that there are significantly fewer women represented in higher level positions, and the women who do rise to the top earn significantly less than their male counterparts, according to a recent study from PayScale. It states, "By mid-career, men are 70% more likely to be in executive roles than women. By late career, men are 142% more likely to be in VP or C-suite roles." Basically, diversity diminishes more and more at each level while the wage gap persists.
Now let's take a closer look at the wage gap in a few male-dominated Industries, where men make up more than 60% of the workforce, as pulled from the Bureau of Labor Census.
Personal Financial Advisors: Women earn 56¢ for every dollar a man with this occupation makes.
Physicians and Surgeons: Women earn 63¢ for every dollar a man with this occupation makes.
Real Estate: Women earn 64¢ for every dollar a man with this occupation makes.
Marketing and Sales Managers: Women earn 65¢ for every dollar a man with this occupation makes.
Production: Women earn 70¢ for every dollar a man with this occupation makes.
Lawyers: Women earn 77¢ for every dollar a man with this occupation makes.
Architects and Engineers: Women earn 82¢ for every dollar a man with this occupation makes.
Computing: Women earn 83¢ for every dollar a man with this occupation makes.
Higher Education: Women earn 84¢ for every dollar a man with this occupation makes.
HOW WE CAN CLOSE THE GENDER WAGE GAP
— Increase pay transparency
— Enforce paid family and medical leave
— Strengthen and enforce equal pay laws
— Encourage and consider union membership
— Spread awareness and advocate to close the opportunity gap
Wondering what the pay gap looks like in your own life? Head to Economic Policy Institute and use its pay gap calculator, which gives you an approximation based on gender, age, education level, and current salary. And if you want to ask for the same pay as a co-worker, consult this guide.
* Name has been changed.