Gender Pay Gap

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Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap has been improving at an extremely slow pace since the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Compared with men, women’s wages in 1963 were about 60 cents. In 2015, we didn’t make much progress. Women earn only 78 cents compared to men. That means we’ve only gained 18 cents over 50 years! Evelyn Murphy, economist and chair of the Federal Wage Project, estimates that over a lifetime of work (47 years), women lose a total of the following wages; $700,000 for high school graduates and $1.2 million for college graduates , vocational school graduates lost $2 million.

The wage gap not only affects women’s current financial situation and ability to save for retirement, but also suggests that lower wages cause them to contribute less to Social Security benefits. This leads to reduced social security benefits for women, as benefits are determined by lifetime contributions. In 2012, the average Social Security benefit for a 65-year-old woman was $12,520 per year, compared with $16,396 for a 65-year-old man. Combine that with women saving less than men due to lower wage rates, and women generally living longer than men, and we see a doubling of the number of women over 65 living below the poverty line. If the pay gap narrows, in addition to women earning more, saving more, and receiving higher Social Security benefits, women will contribute more to Social Security, which is good for everyone.

The gender pay gap is not just a national issue. We also see this gender pay gap at an international level. CNN reports that the United States ranks 65th out of 142 countries in the world for the gender pay gap. The top countries are Burundi with 83%, followed by Singapore and Norway with 80%. Women in Italy earn just 48% of what men earn, compared to 47% in Israel. Syria, Pakistan and Jordan have the lowest percentages. This is clearly an international issue for women all over the world. Not only to change our nation, but also to change the whole world.

As women, there are several steps we can take to help bridge this gap. Public awareness of this issue is critical. Additionally, many experts believe women must learn to better negotiate salaries with potential employers. However, negotiation skills are tricky for women because sometimes self-promotion that works for men can backfire. Some strategies that have been proven to work for women are knowing the value of your skills, showing a positive attitude and discussing shared goals and what they individually bring to the table. There are workshops that can help educate women on how to be successful negotiators. Another way we can improve disparities is by encouraging our companies to be fair to all employees. Companies can use audits to monitor and address gender pay gaps. Companies should know that paying fairly is an ethical and legal thing that needs to be enforced. It will also improve the productivity and overall morale of female employees. In addition to the Equal Pay Act of 1963, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, which provided additional protections against unfair pay. The act allows women to file claims against companies within 180 days of pay discrimination. The AAUW website provides information and support to help women fight for equal pay.

Most economists agree that we have not seen a significant improvement in the gender pay gap over the past 50 years. Closing the gender pay gap will not only help women in our country, but our entire economy as well as our social security programs. We must all take steps to raise our awareness by reading the many government reports available online, educating ourselves on this issue. As a group, women must be able to better negotiate our salaries and hold employers accountable for discrimination. The media continues to discuss this issue, and economists continue to report and analyze this 78% national pay gap. As individuals, we must continue to close this gap through some of the ways discussed and come up with new ways to help. Women deserve equal pay for equal work.

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