The wage gap between men and women is still a reality today, with the gap only widening as women age. In fact, women often face lower wages than their male counterparts due to occupational segregation, unconscious biases, and discrimination, among other things.
This issue has long-reaching implications for individuals, our economy, and our society at large. But in this particular blog post, we’ll look at the Age Gap: an intersection of gender and age that underscores these disparities in the workplace.
Let’s explore what it is, how it works, and more…
What Are the Basics of the Age Gap?
As women progress in their careers, they encounter even greater disparities in wages compared to their male counterparts.
Thus, as the wage gap widens as they age, women in their retirement years are left with significantly less financial security than men.
“Earnings gaps represent a prime reason why women, especially widows and divorced women or those who never married, experience higher rates of poverty in old age than men,” as explained by the Center for American Progress (CAP).
We can see this growing wage gap at the intersection of age and gender as illustrated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s research:
- Ages 16 to 19: 10% gap
- Ages 20 to 24: 7.1% gap
- Ages 25 to 34: 9.8% gap
- Ages 34 to 44: 17.9% gap
- Ages 45 to 54: 20.8% gap
- Ages 55 to 64: 22.2% gap
- Ages 65 and Over: 26.9% gap
How Does the Age Gap Work?
One reason the wage gap is exacerbated over a woman’s lifetime is because of the tendency for women to be overlooked for promotions and leadership positions, even when they possess the same skills and experience as their male colleagues.
Additionally, gender stereotypes and biases can lead to a devaluation of traditionally female-dominated roles, resulting in lower salaries for women working in these fields.
Another factor that contributes to the wage gap for older women is the impact of caregiving responsibilities on their careers — often referred to as “the motherhood penalty” in most familial cases.
Women are more likely to take time off from work to care for family members, which can interrupt their career trajectories and result in lower earnings over time. Moreover, women who do return to work after a break for caregiving responsibilities may face challenges in finding equal pay and opportunities for advancement.
But with that all in mind, when are women most likely to begin feeling the effects of this age gap?
“After around 40, women’s wage growth plateaus and then drops off earlier than men’s,” according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). “This holds true when measuring the gap using median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers”
She Matters Today… and Tomorrow
It is imperative that we recognize and address the persistent wage gap for women, especially as they grow older. A fair and equitable workplace benefits not only individual women, but also the larger economy and society.
Efforts to close the wage gap must take into account the nuanced and complex factors that contribute to it, including occupational segregation, unconscious biases, and discrimination.
By doing so, we can promote equal pay for all workers, regardless of gender.
But what do you think? Are you a female worker who is already feeling the impacts of all the aforementioned? Or do you have another point of view on the age gap? We’d love to hear from you!
Please reach out to us or visit our S.H.E. Matters page to send in a submission for our review, and stay tuned here for more information!