Closing The Gap

Here's how much men and women earn at every age

Sarah Rafferty as Donna Paulsen and Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter on "Suits"
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Women earn just 79 cents for every dollar men make in 2019.

That's the "'raw' gender pay gap, which looks at the median salary for all men and women regardless of job type or worker seniority," Payscale explains in its 2019 report on the state of the pay gap.

The 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:

  • 16 to 19 years: $501 weekly ($26,052 annually)
  • 20 to 24 years: $624 weekly ($32,448 annually)
  • 25 to 34 years: $877 weekly ($45,604 annually)
  • 35 to 44 years: $1,112 weekly ($57,824 annually)
  • 45 to 54 years: $1,138 weekly ($59,176 annually)
  • 55 to 64 years: $1,191 weekly ($61,932 annually)
  • 65 years and older: $1,037 weekly ($53,924 annually)

And here's how much women earn at every age:

  • 16 to 19 years: $437 weekly ($22,724 annually)
  • 20 to 24 years: $558 weekly ($29,016 annually)
  • 25 to 34 years: $763 weekly ($39,676 annually)
  • 35 to 44 years: $877 weekly ($45,604 annually)
  • 45 to 54 years: $876 weekly ($45,552 annually)
  • 55 to 64 years: $895 weekly ($46,540 annually)
  • 65 years and older: $757 weekly ($39,364 annually)

Women not only earn less, but, as the data shows, their peak earning age is lower than that of the average man.

This aligns with data from 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.

Payscale earnings chart

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.

Read up on more expert-vetted negotiation strategies and remember: Although only half of job seekers negotiate, the vast majority of those who try it succeed.

This is an updated version of a previously published post. 

Don't miss: Female Quotient CEO Shelley Zalis says there are two things companies can do to help close the pay gap

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