Quick Hit: What Can you do with $443,360 and 12 years?

Capitalist with sack of money and calendar Stock Photo - 10543562

That’s how much money some working women are missing out on as a result of wage disparities among genders. According to the Huffington Post:

“The typical full-time working woman stands to miss out on $443,360 over 40 years because of the gender wage gap, according to an April report from the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). That means a woman would have to work 12 years longer then her male counterpart just to break even.”

With that much time and money I could pay off my $90,000 student loan bill and get 2 doctorates. I could travel the world and start a family. I could buy a home, a fairly nice one depending on where I live. I could start a social justice organization. I could buy this purse (more than 15 times). The possibilities are endless.

It sucks that wage disparities still exist at the literal expense of women.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted May 10, 2013 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Math police: You’re off by an order of magnitude. 443360/2810 ~ 157, not 15.

    It’s a recurring pattern of making mathematical mistakes and misinterpretations when it comes to the wage gap. Consider that women voluntarily choose types of careers that pay less.

    Is it appropriate to advocate that more women go into e.g. finance and STEM jobs?

    Is it appropriate to advocate that more men go into e.g. teaching and nursing?

    • Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

      I kept my mouth closed regarding controlling for factors such as educational attainment or uninterrupted years of experience*, because the argument is sound overall, and the author kindly included links where commenters on those posts express my common concerns on the “77 cents for every dollar earned by a man” figure. I will say this – it is more accurate to say, a full time female worker on average is paid 77% as much as a full time male worker.” Why is it imprecise to say a woman earns 77 cents for EVERY dollar earned by a man? Because that assumes for example, that it represents an hourly rate, e.g., one hour worked by a woman is paid 77% the rate of one hour worked by a man. I do not claim men work harder than women, or that “men’s” work is harder than women’s work, but they are not working the exact same hours. And then most women go home and do more unpaid work than men, particularly in child care. It is not an apples to apples comparison.

      It is entirely appropriate to promote more diversity in the workforce. More women should be in positions of power to reap the rewards, and also doing more hands on work like manual or skilled labor, if they choose. More men should be in teaching, particularly of very young children, or in nursing. It is also appropriate to provide financial incentives to “non traditional” students like women with an interest in studying automotive technology or men wanting to go into nursing. (Contrary to popular opinion, I never received any financial assistance, and did not know of any such program (if indeed there was one) in my school. In fact, I paid out of state tuition, which was $10,000 more per year than what others were paying, because I had been away. I don’t have college money for my own children, because I went to back to college.)

      Who am I to say men and women “should” be doing a certain kind of work? Because I know that people are interested in work that does not conform to gender stereotypes or tradition but are often held back by prejudice in the workplace, or even while growing up. Girls shouldn’t be discouraged from an interest in math or hard sciences, and boys shouldn’t be called “gay” if they want to be nurturers. Employers and coworkers shouldn’t impose barriers on people who do not meet their expectations of what they think an engineer or pre-school teacher looks like.

      * “Uninterrupted years of experience” – why does it matter? Isn’t an MBA and five years on the job the same for male vs. female? It may not be the same if someone has taken extended time off. The environment, the job market, or even the industry itself may have changed while away. Ask my brother who cannot find IT related work 14 years after being laid off in the tech bust then got married and stayed home to raise his infant daughter, later forced to string along temporary assignments doing what he says recent grads can do, despite working for a major military contractor and later having a supervisory position in Silicon Valley in the 1990s. I can’t blame any modern IT firm for passing him over, with his expectation to be paid like a 1990s Silicon Valley programmer, while living in Hawaii.

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