The millennial generation has gotten a reputation for its revolutionary spirit. On the heels of the presidential election, we’ve brought renewed attention to all kinds of issues, including the gender pay gap.
But 2017 numbers on the gap indicate that closing it will be a herculean task.
While men’s earnings have been relatively unchanged for the past 30 years, the average woman makes $9,000 more than she did in 1980. However, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s most recent Status of Women in the States report showed gains in the average woman’s pay has largely stalled since 2002.
Experts at the institute predict that, if women’s wages continue to rise at the rate they have since 1959, the national gap won’t close until 2059, more than 40 years from now.
When those figures are broken down by state, Florida will be first to close its gap, in 2038. Bringing up the rear is Wyoming in 2153, more than 130 years from now. (You can check out the projection for your state here.)
The researchers pointed out in their report that a woman born in the U.S. in 2017 has a life expectancy of 87 years. When she’s 65 years old, there will still be a wage gap in 13 states. (Though other experts believe millennial women are helping to close the gap faster. While a gender pay gap exists across all generations, it’s smaller for millennials.)
Unfortunately, not every woman is in the same boat. Women of color will have to wait even longer for pay equity. Institute for Women’s Policy Research numbers show that black women’s pay won’t catch up until 2124. Hispanic women will have to wait until 2248.
Today, women earn the majority of bachelor’s and advanced degrees, and make up almost half of the workforce. Some thought that increasing the number of highly educated women in the country would snuff out the gender wage gap. Yet between 2002 and 2013, the gap narrowed only by 1.7 percentage points.
What’s stopping it? Well, the gap is a complicated issue. There isn’t just one thing that’s going to fix it. But one of the hurdles to equal pay is the persistent issue of occupational gender segregation, a hallmark of the U.S. labor market. Many professions continue to be heavily female- or male-dominated.
IWPR data shows that the U.S. made moves to integrate traditionally gendered occupations in the 1970s and 1980s, but, since the mid-1990s, progress in this area has halted. And the more women there are in a field, the lower the average earnings in that field, the data shows.
Across low-, medium- and high-skilled work, pay differences between male- and female-dominated fields exist. In 2009, the average weekly pay for high-skilled, male-dominated work was $1,424; for high-skilled, female-dominated work it was $953.
Gender discrimination in the workplace is another persistent cause for the gap. Find out what you can do to combat gender discrimination in your workplace.
Katie Moritz is Rewire’s senior editor and a Pisces who enjoys thrift stores, rock concerts and pho. She covered politics for the daily newspaper in Juneau, Alaska, before driving down to Minnesota to help produce long-standing public affairs show “Almanac” at Twin Cities PBS. Now she edits and writes the articles that appear on Rewire, and works with its pool of freelance journalists. She has also written episodes of PBS Digital Studios series “Sound Field” and “America From Scratch.” She’s the host of the history webseries “30-Second Minnesota,” which was nominated for an Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award. Reach her via email at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.