The Gender Pay Gap Only Gets Worse As Women Grow Older

Call it the motherhood penalty.
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Women earn less than men at every stage in their careers, but the gender pay gap is at its widest when a woman hits 50, according to a new analysis of official UK statistics by the Trades Union Councils. The TUC reports that a woman working full-time would be paid £85,040 ($103,761 in U.S. dollars) less during the course of this decade than a full-time man.

The TUC attributes the gap to the impact that parenthood has on women’s and men’s earnings. TUC research published earlier this year found that at age 42 (the midpoint of a typical working life) the pay gap between moms and dads in full-time work was 42 percent. For childless men and women in their early 40s, it was 12 percent.

The mothers who were least likely to experience a motherhood pay penalty were those who had children later in life when they were more senior and returned to full-time work soon after having children, the report noted.

In a press release, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Women suffer a huge pay penalty over the course of their careers, which peaks in their 50s. At current rates of progress it will take decades for women to achieve pay parity with men.”

Decades may be mere blinks of the eye on the other side of the pond. In a study released recently, the American Association of University Women projected gender pay equity in the U.S. could take 136 years to achieve.

The AAUW report also found that the gender pay gap grows with age, and differences among older workers are considerably larger than gaps among younger workers. The report says, “Women typically earn about 90 percent of what men are paid until they hit 35. After that median earnings for women are typically 76–81 percent of what men are paid.”

New York and Delaware are the two states with the smallest gap in median annual earnings ― 11 percent. Wyoming, at the other end of the pay scale, has a 39 percent wage gap between genders.

Doesn’t 136 years feel like too long to be playing catch-up?

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