The gender pay gap is real, and the reasons it persists are complex and varied. The first step to closing it is to understand where we are right now, in terms of pay equity for women. Recently, the AAUW (The American Association of University Women) released the 2016 edition of their report, The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap, which is based on analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key findings and see what the future might hold.
- At this rate, the gap will close in 2152.
Based on trends tracked since 2001, the AAUW has determined that the pay gap isn’t expected to close entirely for another 136 years. Although occupational segregation decreased during the ’80s and ’90s, when women were entering the workforce in record numbers, growth has stalled over the course of the last 15 years.
“We know that women can do everything ‘right’ yet still face a pay gap.” Lisa Maatz, VP of government relations and advocacy at AAUW said in a release about this aspect of the report. “There are all kinds of policy solutions that we should be passing — and passing in a strong, bipartisan way — yet congress is still treading water on equal pay.”
The pay gap varies significantly by region, race and ethnicity, and industry, but according to the findings of this report, the situation is particularly dire for mothers. They must work, on average, an extra 155 days each year in order to catch up to their male counterparts. They earn about 70 cents for every dollar working fathers receive.
In response, some women and men have started to “celebrate” Mothers’ Equal Pay Day, which is on June 4th. This date marks the symbolic day when mothers, who work full-time, finally catch up to the earnings of the average man from the year before.
- The gap increases the impact of student loan debt, particularly for some.
Almost 70 percent of graduating college seniors in 2014 left school with student loan debt. But, because of the gender pay gap, men are able to settle these loans faster than women. For example, between 2009 and 2012, men who graduated during the 2007-2008 school year paid off 44 percent of their student loan debt, on average. Their female counterparts only managed to pay off 33 percent. For black and Hispanic women, who experience an even steeper pay gap than white women (the gap is largest for Hispanic and Latina women — they were only paid about 54 percent of what the average white male earned in 2015), the problem was even worse. They were only been able to pay off about 10 percent of their debt during that same time period.
For the record, African-American women would observe their Equal Pay Day, the day they finally catch up to the average white male’s earnings for the year before, on August 23rd, and Latina women would have to wait all the way until November 1st.
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