This year, Equal Pay Day fell on April 12, meaning that women had to work nearly three and a half additional months into 2011 to earn what men earned in 2010. If these extra 102 days of work are extended over 40 years – about how long people will work between schooling and retirement – women need to work more than 11 additional years to earn as much as men. Since the establishment of Equal Pay Day 15 years ago, the gap has barely budged, with women making between 74 percent and 77 percent of what the guys earn. To understand this injustice, let’s first dispense with some of the misconceptions about why guys get bigger paychecks.
1. Women earn less because they enter low-paying fields and become moms.
While it’s true that men tend to enter higher-paying fields than women, that difference alone does not explain the gender wage gap. Even when they work in the same occupations, men earn more. For instance, the median weekly salary for full-time male pharmacists was $1,954 in 2009, compared to $1,475 for female pharmacists, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. And men even earn more than women in traditionally female-dominated occupations. For example, full-time female registered nurses earned an average of $1,035 per week, whereas men earned $1,090 — or an extra $2,860 per year.