Uh oh, there’s even more bad news about the gender wage gap

The gender wage gap is already infuriating, but it turns out that it’s more awful than we might have thought. The gender wage gap gets worse as women get older, so even after hustling for years, female employees are earning less than their male peers. Ugh. A new study based on the data from a U.S. Census Bureau looked at individual firms and their employees and tracked the earnings of men and women over two decades.

Turns out, the gender wage gap is even wider over time within companies.

So the more time a woman puts in at her job, staying loyal, and building the business, the more her male counterparts at the same job make. College educated women start making around 89 percent of what their college educated male colleagues earn, but at around 45 years old, they’re only making 57 percent of what the men at the same company do.

The study doesn’t tackle the “why” part of the equation. Is it that men are getting promoted more? Probably. But the gap was still pretty large even when people moved around and changed jobs, mainly because when men changed companies, it was usually to a higher paying job. The authors of the study suggest that it may be because in couples, men are still considered the “primary” earner and families relocate and make decisions based on the primary career.

The gender wage gap is persistent and real. The Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees released a report recently that found that even when controlling for location and age, women make less than men. Up until around 66 years old. So that’s how long you have to work to make more than a male.

How do we close the wage gap? It’s complicated, but it can be done. The first step is convincing men and women alike that it exists, since there are still people out there suggesting that the wage gap is just some thing people make up, or that it’s deserved. (BTW, it’s not.) Giving women promotions and making it easier for parents to work and care for their kids are other things employers can do.

It will take a long time, but eventually, the gender wage gap can close.

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