Our capitalistic Western culture prides itself on the American dream: anyone can live the life they want to live, so long as they work hard enough to achieve it. And many people in the professional world would agree with this, at least to some degree — the more experience you have, the more money you tend to make and positions that require more education or more training pay higher as well.
Of course, that probably doesn't explain why Becky-down-the-hall makes more money than you do even though you do the same job, or why you started with a higher salary than Roger, who had the same level of experience. Were these random discrepancies? Favoritism? Or are some people just predisposed to make more money than others?
Race and gender
Though naysayers are persistent in trying to illustrate the gender pay gap as a myth, empirical evidence consistently suggests it's a reality. The American Association of University Women took data from the United States Census Bureau to review whether there's truth to the "80 percent" statistic that's usually mentioned in discussions on pay inequality. And the numbers are in; women still make, on average, 80 percent what men make. This is the statistic for full-time employees of both genders, and it's not changing anytime soon; experts estimate that at this rate, the pay gap won't close until the 2150s.
This pay gap persists no matter what level of education, race or background a woman has — but there are some differences between races. For example, the pay gap between Hispanic/Latino men and women is 92 percent, while for white men and women, it's 76 percent. Still, on average, white women make more than men or women of African American, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian or American Indian backgrounds.