Unequal pay: Early start, lifelong unfairness
“The gender pay gap starts earlier than you think,” said Renee Morad in NBCNews.com. The first bosses who underpay girls? Their own parents. Boys earn twice as much for household jobs as girls do: Data from the household-chore app Busy Kid shows boys taking in $13.80 a week in allowance, compared with just $6.71 for girls. In one experiment, by researcher Yasemin Besen-Cassino, “when girls asked for a raise, they were less likely than boys to get one.” It’s the same pattern that other studies have shown with women in the grown-up work world. You can see the pay gap in early jobs outside the home too, with teens as young as 14. Often, “young girls stay in freelance positions, like babysitting, and boys move into employee-type jobs, like working for a landscaping company.” Girls should learn early to negotiate for themselves, but employers—and parents—need to be aware of their own biases.
Those kinds of biases are part of the reason the wage gap hasn’t really budged in a decade, said Jessica Dickler in CNBC.com. Despite increased attention paid to the issue, a woman still “makes about 80 cents for every dollar a man does.” The gap is smaller in tech fields, which have recently been under heavy scrutiny, with women earning 92 percent of their male counterparts’ salaries. But it’s worse in some of the highest-paid fields: In finance, women take home just 65 percent of men’s pay, and female doctors and surgeons get only 71 percent. The difference even persists when women set their own salaries, said Vanessa Fuhrmans in The Wall Street Journal. On average, in comparable companies, female founders/CEOs paid themselves an annual salary of $179,444, while men gave themselves $232,659. Why? Women founders “often have less breathing room than male entrepreneurs.” Women get “substantially” less venture money than do men and face more pressure to not “come across to backers as extravagant.”
The lifetime gap in earnings makes it harder for women to plan for retirement, said Angela Antonelli in MarketWatch.com. Women invest more in education, and “two-thirds of the more than $1.3 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt is owed by women.” They often end up behind on savings; nearly one-half of older unmarried women rely almost entirely on Social Security in retirement. Women who leave the workforce to care for an ailing parent lose a startling average of $300,000 in wages and benefits. And, of course, women live longer. The earnings gap in younger years turns into a financial gap in old age that the U.S. has done little to address. ■