Women’s Wages Flatten At 39: Another Reason We Need Pay Equity
With the Senate set to take up the Paycheck Fairness Act and the White House pushing hard for its passage, the New York Times offers up this look at how the gender gap between men and women grows with age.
Generally speaking, the older a woman is the greater the disparity in pay between what she earns and her male counterparts earn. Now there’s new data that has charted exactly where female college graduates hit their pay ceiling. The conclusion? 39.
The study assumes the earnings of a “typical college-educated, full-time worker” who starts at an entry level position at age 22. Even at the outset there’s a sizable gap in pay between men and women with men earning $40,800 versus $31,900. Initially, in terms of percentages, women’s pay raises outpace men’s but then level out around age 30. At that point both college-educated men and women have experienced wage growth at about 60 percent compared with what they started earning at 22.
But by the time women reach 39 their pay flattens, sometimes permanently. The study accounts for the fact that around age 30 women typically start having kids and that entering into and out of the workplace as a result impacts earning capacity. But beyond that point there’s nothing to account for the pay disparity that is verifiable and quantitative.
The fact that there’s no clean explanation for the difference, and no way to account for how universal it is shows just how pernicious and entrenched the problem of pay disparity is and why the Paycheck Fairness Act is so necessary.
Photo from 401K via flickr.