This Is The Impact Of Gender Wage Gap

The gender wage gap is a nuanced and complex issue. Here’s a breakdown of how it varies across categories, and the ultimate impact it has on the economy.

This Is The Impact Of Gender Wage Gap
[Photo: AlexLinch/iStock]

Today is Equal Pay Day, a day that symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Of course it’s not exactly that simple. The gender wage gap is a nuanced and complex issue.


Gender Wage Gap By Ethnicity

A new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families finds that nationally, white women are typically paid 79¢ for every dollar a white man makes. Meanwhile, black women only get 63¢ and Latinas just 54¢ for every dollar white men make, while Asian women may be paid the highest at 87¢. However, some ethnic subgroups of Asian women earn much less. And parenthood further complicates the issue: The wage gap for mothers is around 71¢ for every dollar paid to fathers.

Related: The Vast Gender Pay Gap At Google, Amazon, And Apple U.K.

[Image: courtesy of SmartAsset]

Gender Wage Gap By Profession

The gender wage gap also varies depending on what job a woman holds. According to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 121 occupations from 2017, financial adviser is the profession with the largest pay gap. In fact, four of the top 10 occupations with the largest pay gaps are in finance. The sector continues to be dominated by men, which is part of the reason that their salaries are higher than women’s. However, even in real estate where there are more female brokers, women earn 70.5% of what their average male counterpart earns.

Related: These jobs have the largest and smallest gender pay gaps

Occupations with the smallest wage gap for women are licensed practical nurse, wholesale and retail buyers, and counselors.

[Image: courtesy of Hired]

The Causes Of Wage Gaps

The majority (63%) of the time in the U.S., men are offered higher salaries than women for the same role at the same company, according to wage gap data and survey responses compiled by Hired.  On average, these companies offer women 4% less than men for the same role, with some offering women up to 45% less. These numbers are likely due to unconscious bias, inconsistent pay practices, and paying new hires based on what they made in their previous role. “Our data found that 66% of the time, women are asking for less money–6% less on average–than men for the same role at the same company,” says Kelli Dragovich, senior vice president of people at Hired. Undervaluing themselves is part of the reason, she says, as 50% of female survey respondents said they experienced impostor syndrome most of the time.


Related: The Gender Pay Gap Is Even Worse At The Top

Why Closing The Wage Gap Would Boost The Economy

It’s about more than just fairness: The gender wage gap has a significant  impact on the economy.  At the current rate of progress, the U.S. won’t close the gender wage gap until 2059, according to the most recent report from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee. With that large of a wage disparity, the National Partnership’s study concludes that women employed full time in the U.S. will lose nearly $900 billion this year alone. If it were closed, it would mean that the average working woman could afford more than one additional year of tuition and fees for a four-year public university, 74 more weeks of food for her family, nearly seven more months of mortgage and utility payments, or 14 more months of childcare. The latter is so astronomical in some cities that women are quitting their jobs altogether, which perpetuates a cycle of underpayment due to lack of representation.

About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.