Women in the U.S. earn 81 cents for every dollar men make in 2020.
That’s the raw gender pay gap, “which looks at the median salary for all men and women regardless of job type or worker seniority,” Payscale explains in a 2020 report on the state of the pay gap.
The gap forms early and continues to grow: As data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows, men earn more from the start. And women not only earn less, but their peak earning age is lower than that of the average man.
Here’s the median income American men are earning, broken down by age group, as of the second quarter of 2020.
- 16 to 19 years: $518 weekly ($26,936 annually)
- 20 to 24 years: $662 weekly ($34,424 annually)
- 25 to 34 years: $963 weekly ($50,076 annually)
- 35 to 44 years: $1,239 weekly ($64,428 annually)
- 45 to 54 years: $1,271 weekly ($66,092 annually)
- 55 to 64 years: $1,220 weekly ($63,440 annually)
- 65 years and older: $1,034 weekly ($53,768 annually)
And here’s how much women earn at various ages:
- 16 to 19 years: $481 weekly ($25,012 annually)
- 20 to 24 years: $610 weekly ($31,720 annually)
- 25 to 34 years: $867 weekly ($45,084 annually)
- 35 to 44 years: $1,011 weekly ($52,572 annually)
- 45 to 54 years: $1,005 weekly ($52,260 annually)
- 55 to 64 years: $972 weekly ($50,544 annually)
- 65 years and older: $998 weekly ($51,896 annually)
Women could be disadvantaged even more due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Women have a higher risk of suffering greater penalties in earnings,” Payscale notes in its report, since they make up a larger percentage of occupations in fields like social services, education and office and administrative support, which are positions that are more likely to be suspended or asked to work reduced hours.
“Women are also more likely to have to take time off work, or even resign their positions, in order to care for children who are no longer in school as well as other family members,” Payscale adds.
The gender pay gap widens for people of color
Women overall in the U.S. earn less than men, but the disparity in pay widens for minorities. Black women, for example, earn 61 cents for every dollar that their White male counterparts are paid, according to the National Women’s Law Center’s analysis of 2018 Census Bureau data. That could amount to $946,120 in lost wages over a 40-year career.
Here’s the median income of American White men broken down by age group, according to Q2 2020 data from the BLS:
- 16 to 24 years: $639 weekly ($33,228 annually)
- 25 to 54 years: $1,154 weekly ($60,008 annually)
- 55 years and older: $1,242 weekly ($64,584 annually)
Here’s the median income of American Black men broken down by age group:
- 16 to 24 years: $606 weekly ($31,512 annually)
- 25 to 54 years: $865 weekly ($44,980 annually)
- 55 years and older: $905 weekly ($47,060 annually)
Here’s the median income of American White women broken down by age group:
- 16 to 24 years: $593 weekly ($30,836 annually)
- 25 to 54 years: $968 weekly ($50,336 annually)
- 55 years and older: $981 weekly ($51,012 annually)
Here’s the median income of American Black women broken down by age group:
- 16 to 24 years: $552 weekly ($28,704 annually)
- 25 to 54 years: $777 weekly ($40,404 annually)
- 55 years and older: $969 weekly ($50,388 annually)
Closing the gender pay gap
Pay transparency, or openly sharing employee salaries, could be the top solution to closing the gap, 2020 data from PayScale shows. When companies are open about the salaries they give employees, the wage gap in most industries and at all job levels disappears, the report finds.
Another way women are able to close the gender gap, though time-consuming and oftentimes expensive, is by getting one more degree.
A 2018 wage gap report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce found that in order to earn the same salary as men, women essentially need to get one more degree. “A woman with a bachelor’s degree earns $61,000 per year on average, roughly equivalent to that of a man with an associate’s degree,” the Georgetown CEW reports. “The same rule holds true for women with master’s degrees compared to men with bachelor’s degrees and for each successive level of educational attainment.”
To help narrow the gap, there are a few things women can do besides getting another degree, the report notes. For starters, pick a college major that pays well: “Women majoring in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields earn $840,000 more from the base year to retirement than women who major in the liberal arts, regardless of the occupations they choose.”
And when you land your first job, negotiate your starting pay well. As the Georgetown CEW report finds, “The first salary is a very important leverage point for upward mobility and can result in a slower trajectory if women aim lower to begin with.”
If you’re well past day one on the job and think you’re being paid less than you should be, you can still negotiate for a fair salary. First, do your research on comparable salaries. A salary calculator can help you gauge your market value.
Before initiating a conversation with your manager, document a list of achievements, such as new projects you’ve taken on or any measurable goals you’ve achieved since you started.
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