We all know about the wage gap, but apparently it starts from day one and may actually get worse from there. That’s according to research firm PayScale in an analysis – reported on by Forbes – of when college-educated women start earning less than the men.
Start lower, stay lower
Here’s how it breaks down: Female college graduates start at a median income of $31,900 while males are $8,900 ahead at $40,800. From age 22 to 30, wage growth by percentage is basically equal at about 60 per cent. (Naturally women are still behind.) It’s at age 30 that women’s salaries hit the brakes.
All downhill from 30
Age 30 appears to be the point at which the gap increases. And not only that, but women’s salary growth actually appears to stall while men’s pay cheques keep increasing. And the numbers aren’t insignificant either – women tend to top out at about $60,000 around age 39 while men keep on bringing home the gourmet bacon with the raises they receive through age 48. And a median income of $95,000 a year can buy a lot more bacon than that 60K.
Why the difference?
I’m sure there are as many reasons as there are jobs, including the usual suspects like childbearing, type of work women go into, and overt or subtle discrimination.
Francine Blau from Cornell University, who’s quoted in the Forbes piece, offers another possibility: “Women may also receive lower salary offers than men, negotiate less successfully, and be more likely to stay with one employer for longer, rather than looking elsewhere for better offers.” All of that may be true, although I’m always a little wary of generalizations about how women handle their careers.
The gap narrows
The good news is that the gap is getting smaller. Women used to make 60 per cent of what men did, and that number is now more like 80 per cent. Still a ways to go, and a while to get there if the pace of change over the past few decades is any indication, but still. It’s better.
What do you think about this pattern of earning? Is there a reason women hit the wall at 30?