A woman would have to work a full fifteen months to earn what a man in an equivalent role makes in a year. That's because the wage gap is estimated to be 80 cents to the dollar. However, a recent study suggests that the pay gap could be even wider.
“The commonly used figure to describe the gender wage ratio — that a woman earns 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man — understates the pay inequality problem by leaving many women workers out of the picture,” authors Stephen J. Rose, a labour economist and fellow at the Urban Institute, and Heidi I. Hartmann, the founder of IWPR and an economist in residence at American University, argue in their report, titled “Still a Man’s Labour Market.”Specifically, it leaves out women who have dropped out of the labour force temporarily, often to care for family.
In other words: when you look at women’s careers over a fifteen-year period and include both years spent in paid employment and years spent providing unpaid caregiving work, women only earn 49 cents for every dollar a man earns.
Yes, that’s kind of like comparing apples and oranges — but that’s the point. People who take time out of the workforce to provide unpaid labour to family, no matter their gender, lose out on both potential income and potential career growth. Since women are more likely to take on this unpaid labour than men are, time spent out of the workforce not only reduces an individual woman’s earning potential but also contributes to the large-scale pay gap between men and women.
What about men who take time out for caregiving, or become unemployed? The study took that into account:
While men are also penalised for time out of the workforce, women’s earnings losses for time out are almost always greater than men’s.
Among women workers in this study, 43 per cent had at least one year with no earnings, while only 23 per cent of men did, indicating that being out of work for a year is still a common experience for women but unusual for men.
If you’re looking to close your own pay gap, we’ve got some tips below to help you negotiate a higher starting salary or approach your boss about a raise.
August 7 was Black Women’s Equal Pay Day — or the symbolic day that the average black woman reached pay equity with white men in the US this year — and Refinery29 ran a great piece on how three women discovered they were underpaid, and what they did about it.