The Gender Pay Gap -- A Lifelong Burden for Women

Linda Alepin
Posted June 29, 2018 from United States
Start Smart visual
Males earn $10,000 more in 5 years

There is an insidious economic issue that burdens women around the world – even in the United States.  It saps the ability to repay student debts.  It makes life more difficult for mothers (now 42% of the U.S. population who are sole or primary wage earners) to feed, house, and clothe their families.  It leaves old women destitute and, in extreme cases, homeless. 

These are all real effects of the gender pay gap.  Here are a few statistics from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) landmark study – The Simple Truth (https://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/).  (Data from 2016)

  • Women working full time in the United States typically are paid just 80 percent of what men were paid.
  • While the gap is narrowing, if progress continues at the same pace as it has since 2001, the gap will not be closed until 2119.
  • The gender wage gap contributes to more women living below the poverty line.
  • Women in retirement receive less from social security and other sources.

Since we all have mothers and many of us have aunts, daughters and sisters, this is a family issue, not just a women’s issue.  This issue, as well, worsens with racial, age, and sexual orientation demographics.  For example, the average Latina woman makes just 54% of an average white male. 

Of course, there are many factors affecting the gender wage gap over time, including choice of career, geography, level of education, time out of the labor force, etc.  But one of the most telling statistics from a 2012 study was that women just one year after college graduation were being paid 18% less than their male counterparts. 

This statistic brings me to a personal story of taking action to mitigate this injustice. 

This past year, I have led an initiative in Tucson, Arizona, to education young women about the wage gap and train them to negotiate their first salary.   The University of Arizona – the College of Education and the Eller School of Management – have partnered with the local chapter of the AAUW to hold Start Smart workshops for students.  One of the professors has even integrated the material into her class for seniors. 

Part of the workshop that I love is illustrating the wage gap after five years for college-educated students.  I have a great big purple pig which represents the almost $10,00 more a male earns those first years after graduation.  I have a small pink pig that illustrates the bank account of the female. 

Are we having an impact?  I have only a small data sample so far, but more anecdotal evidence.  The students are saying “YES”, I feel I personally got more salary and benefits based on what I learned.

I would be happy to talk to anyone about spreading these workshops around the U.S. and even the world.  Let’s train women to close the gender pay gap!

This story was submitted in response to #WealthofWomen.

Comments 9

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Tarke Edith
Jun 29, 2018
Jun 29, 2018

Hi sister Linda thank you for sharing your story on our forum truly sister women are paid lesser than men all over but it is fenominon that we must fight for it thegether when we joine our voices

Linda Alepin
Jun 29, 2018
Jun 29, 2018

Thank you for joining with me!

Jill Langhus
Jun 30, 2018
Jun 30, 2018

Hi Linda. Thanks for sharing your informative albeit disturbing post about the the gender pay gap. To me it's a human rights issue, because in essence it affects everyone and it isn't right:-( I hope you continue with your wage gap workshop and that you create more of them and/or spread the word so other teachers also integrate this into their curriculum to improve awareness and rectify the problem. I'm so glad you're doing this for these women. Good luck with your story submission. I'm looking forward to hearing more about what you do and how these workshops continue to positively impact women.

Linda Alepin
Jun 30, 2018
Jun 30, 2018

Thank you for your support. Looking at Spain, I found an article that says, "The inequality between men and women in the labor market can be measured in various forms. One is the pay gap, which means women on average earn 23% less than men." Maybe you should back some university helping their women with negotiating! (I have a Spanish version, BTW) I will try to keep everyone updated!

Jill Langhus
Jul 01, 2018
Jul 01, 2018

You're welcome:) Yes, it exists. Women are slowly starting to rise up here now since they are a little behind the times. There recently was a protest and/or day to recognize the disparity in pay and I think the current administration is addressing it more than before but I don't follow it too closely. I don't know how I could help them to negotiate but I'm interested to see what you mean? Send me the Spanish version. Yes, please keep us posted. Thanks.

Rachyrae
Jan 26, 2019
Jan 26, 2019

Very insightful. This situation is as common or even worse in developing and underdeveloped countries. With a brilliant ininiative as yours, we can bridge the gap and prepare a platform for the generation of women after us.

Linda Alepin
Jan 26, 2019
Jan 26, 2019

Thank you for the compliment. As for so many women's issues, education is the answer.

Bettina Amendi
Mar 31, 2019
Mar 31, 2019

Thank You Linda for sharing. I believe on World Pulse platform women will get good information that will facilitate their respective advocacies globally.

leila Kigha
Apr 29, 2019
Apr 29, 2019

Unfortunately that’s the truth we have on ground. Until there is parity we will continue to be victims.
We will keep raising our voice.