The Decade-Long Income Divide: Why Women's Pay Peaks Before Men's

The Decade-Long Income Divide: Why Women's Pay Peaks Before Men's

The big 4-0. Approaching that milestone birthday traditionally inspires soul searching.

Now research suggests it's also a wise time to ask for a raise, especially if you're female.

Payscale’s new report Inside the Gender Pay Gap finds that women’s median wages increase every five years from the age of 20 to 40, when they top out at $49,000. And that’s where they stay for the next 25 years, until retirement.

Compare that to the earning power of men, whose paychecks climb until at least the age of 50and a pinnacle of $75,000.


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You read that right: Women in the U.S. face an income divide of a decade and $26K. And much of the blame goes to our persistent gender job gap.

Women are still more likely to have lower-paying, service-oriented roles, like paralegal, nurse or teacher, according to PayScale.

Another downside is these industries tend to be less specialized, which can reduce the opportunities for a promotion or raise. The highest median salary for jobs most commonly held by women? $45,100. 

Men, on the other hand, gravitate to job titles like computer software engineer, construction manager or network and computer systems administrator. The lowest median pay for jobs most commonly held by men? $64,200.

As a result, Payscale finds that women generally make 25.6% less than men, or 74 cents on the dollar. Before you despair, consider that when it compares similar men and women in similar roles, that gap shrinks to 2.7%, or 97 cents on the dollar.

Still, there's work to be done, especially in the C-suite, where the controlled gap among women and men at the top of the corporate ladder is 6.1%. (Gender biases may be partially to blame when it comes to, say, discrepancies in bonuses.)

Whatever your field, find out how you can beat wage discrimination and get paid what you deserve


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