For all of us who are guilty of WWF (working while female) we already know we earn less then men with the same job. Studies show that on average women earn 77 cents for every male dollar, and while that may not sound so bad in and of itself, have you ever wondered what that could add up to over your lifetime?
Well, as I was preparing a talk for a women’s organization this week, I asked myself that very question, and I was surprised but not shocked at what I found. According to the article “Gender Wage Gap: Are you paid as much as a man if he had your job?” by Evelyn Murph, the president of the WAGE Project; and E.J. Graff, a resident scholar at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center; here is what the gender wage gap could end up costing you:
• If you’re a young woman who graduated last summer from high school, you will earn $700,000 less than the young man standing in line with you to get his diploma over your working life.
• If you graduated from college, you’ll lose $1.2 million compared to the man getting his degree along with you.
• If you graduated from law school, medical school, or got an MBA last summer, you’ll lose $2 million over your lifetime.
So you may be asking, why worry about this issue now? It has been this way since the beginning of time. Well, call me the eternal optimist, but I believe that just because something has always existed one way that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to continue that way. And, until you recognize a problem and it hits home, there isn’t much incentive to fix it. So consider this, the missing money in your paycheck represents food you can’t buy, credit cards you can’t pay off, lessons your children won’t have, and retirement savings that you will never have the opportunity to enjoy. So this is not just one woman’s problem, it belongs to all of us.
My question of the week: Why do you think the gender wage gap exists? Here are some explanations that have been given over the years. The gender wage gap exists because:
• Women aren’t as well educated as men
• Women leave the workforce to have babies
• Women choose low paying jobs
What you think? Do you agree or disagree with the explanations above and what we should do about it? Remember, our actions today will not only affect us, but the generations of women that come after us. Ouch!
P.S.: I am looking for a select group of women who are interested in becoming more active in the Women & Money blog – women to participate in discussion groups, surveys, and polls so that we can keep the journey both interesting and relevant for you. If you are interested, please visit www.WiseWealthyWomen.com and sign up or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patricia Stallworth, CFP® and CDFA, is the president of PS Worth, a financial education company, the author of Minding Your Money, and the host of the Minding Your Money Minute™. Learn more by visiting MindingYourMoney.net.