And the the pay gap forms early and continues to grow. As data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows, men earn more from the get-go.
Here's the median income American men are earning at every age:
And here's how much women earn at every age:
Women not only earn less, but, as the data shows, their peak earning age is significantly lower than that of the average man.
This aligns with data from compensation research firm PayScale, which found that pay growth for college-educated men essentially stops at age 49. For college-educated women, it's decidedly younger: at age 40.
From ages 22 to 32, female pay actually grows slightly faster than male pay. However, a shift occurs at age 33, when women's earnings growth starts to slow and men's remains steady. By age 40, women see their salaries peak at about $67,000.
Meanwhile, men continue seeing pay growth up until age 49, at which point they're earning a median of $102,000.
Take a look at PayScale's chart, which maps out the percent growth in pay by gender from age 22 to 67. Blue represents pay growth for male college grads and orange represents pay growth for female college grads.
One way women are closing the gender gap, though time-consuming and oftentimes expensive, is by getting one more degree.
A 2018 wage gap report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce found that in order to earn the same salary as men, women essentially need to get one more degree. "A woman with a bachelor's degree earns $61,000 per year on average, roughly equivalent to that of a man with an associate's degree," the Georgetown CEW reports. "The same rule holds true for women with master's degrees compared to men with bachelor's degrees and for each successive level of educational attainment."
To help narrow the gap, there are a few things women can do besides getting another degree, the report notes. For starters, pick a college major that pays well: "Women majoring in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields earn $840,000 more from the base year to retirement than women who major in the liberal arts, regardless of the occupations they choose."
And when you land your first job, negotiate your starting pay well. As the Georgetown CEW report finds, "The first salary is a very important leverage point for upward mobility and can result in a slower trajectory if women aim lower to begin with."
If you're well past day one on the job and think you're being paid less than you should be, you can still negotiate for the salary you deserve. First, do your research and understand what a fair salary might look like. A salary calculator can help you gauge your market value.
Before initiating a conversation with your manager, document a list of achievements, such as new projects you've taken on or any measurable goals you've achieved since you started.
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