11 Gender Wage Gap Statistics That Will Scare The Crap Out Of You

Guang Niu/Getty Images News/Getty Images

When April 10 rolls around, you aren't likely to hear anyone greet the women in their lives with a "happy Equal Pay Day." You see, Equal Pay Day is not a holiday, but rather a symbolic day marking how far into the new year women must work in order to earn what men earned the previous year — all thanks to the gender wage gap. According to the World Economic Forum, women around the globe earn on average $12,000 a year, compared to $21,000 for men. This statistic is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to discussing the complexities of the issue, though. While these scary gender wage gap statistics may seem like the stuff of nightmares, they're fact, not fiction.

The World Economic Forum reports that women in every country face a wage gap of some kind. Exactly how wide the gender pay gap is may differ by year or by location, but it is very, very real. U.S. census data from 2015 shows that women working year-round and full-time were, on average, paid 80 cents for every dollar a man received, according to an analysis by the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

The gender wage gap is an issue significantly more complicated than this one statistic suggests, however. The next time you need to school someone in just how hard the career hustle is for women, use these 11 frightening statistics to illustrate your point.


The Gap Is So Pervasive That It Plagues Even The World's Most Gender-Neutral Country

The gender wage gap is not a problem unique to America. Women in countries around the world experience a gap in pay, according to the World Economic Forum's analysis of 144 countries. In fact, the gap persists even in Iceland, the country ranked as the world's most gender neutral. According to the Guardian, women there were recently found to earn 14 to 20 percent less than their male counterparts, spurring the country to pass new legislation aimed at closing that gap.


The Globe Isn't Making Steady Progress Toward Closing The Wage Gap

While the gender wage gap may be smaller now than it was some 50 years ago, the numbers show we're not seeing steady progress. According to the Economic Policy Institute, progress in closing the wage gap stalled in the mid-1990s, and there's no reason to believe it will go away on its own.

A slowdown in progress caused the World Economic Forum to rethink their estimate for closing the global gender gap late last year. The World Economic Forum now estimates it will take 217 years, up from 170, to end gender-based disparities in pay and employment opportunities if the world continues at its current rate of progress (the United Nations, however, estimates it will take 100 years at the current rate of change). No matter how you look at it, a child born tomorrow has no shot at seeing an end to the global wage gap.


The Gap Is WAY Worse For Women Of Color In The U.S.

The gender pay gap is all too often discussed as if it's just one number. But the truth is that women of color experience a wage gap that is significantly larger than the gap reported for women at large.

While women are on average reported as receiving 80 cents for every dollar men that receive, numbers from an April 2017 National Partnership For Women & Families report show black women are paid 63 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic white men, on average. And Latinas receive 54 cents for every dollar a non-Hispanic white male earns, the report found. That means black women won't observe their unique Equal Pay Day until Aug. 7, according to AAUW. For Native women, Equal Pay Day won't come until Sept. 27, and Latina women will have to wait until Nov. 1.


Many Men (And Some Women!) Don't Believe The Wage Gap Exists

A survey of American professionals released in January found that only 61 percent of men believe the gender wage gap is real. That same survey, which was conducted by the online investing platform Ellevest, also found a not insignificant share of women surveyed didn't believe that men make more than women performing equal work: 83 percent of women surveyed said they believe in a gender wage gap.


Women Lose Out On HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS Of Dollars Over The Course Of Their Careers

Women stand to miss out on some serious money thanks to the gender wage gap. According to The Center for American Progress, judging by the current wage gap, a woman misses out on $430,480 over the course of a 40-year career. An African-American woman would lose $877,480, while a Latina woman would lose $1,007,080 over the same period of time.


Research Shows Sexual Harassment Could Be A Factor

In a study first published in May 2017, researchers found "sexual harassment increases financial stress, largely by precipitating job change, and can significantly alter women's career attainment." Specifically, the study found that women who reported having been sexually harassed at work were 6.5 times more likely to change jobs compared to women who had not been harassed.

Often, those women did not change to a job with a higher salary or more growth potential. Rather, researchers found women were knocked "off-course during the formative early years of their career" as they either took lower-paying jobs or moved into less lucrative industries in an attempt to extract themselves from a job where they'd been sexually harassed.


Women Who Earn Degrees Aren't Earning More On The Job

Both the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the AAUW have concluded that, while women are earning degrees at a slightly higher rate than men, they continue to earn less on the job. In fact, the AAUW reported in 2016 that "in some cases, the gender pay gap is larger at higher levels of education."

Data collected from federal financial aid recipients appears to support these findings. According to the Center for American Progress, men working 6 years after they enrolled in college earned approximately $4,000 more per year than working women 10 years after enrolling. Furthermore, a 2015 report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) found that women with graduate degrees were experiencing the widest gender pay gap and earning just 69 percent of what their male colleagues made.


Women Still Lose Out When It Comes To Unpaid Care Work

A 2015 McKinsey Global Institute report estimated that women's unpaid care work globally was worth $10 trillion. What's more, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that women perform two to 10 times more unpaid care work than men. That work often keeps women from being able to participate in the workforce full time, thereby limiting their employment opportunities and their earnings.


Women Are Woefully Underrepresented Among Top Earners At Big Companies

According to a 2018 report from the nonprofit group Catalyst, women make up just 5.2 percent of CEOs at S&P 500 companies — that's just 26 female CEOs. The same report also found that women made up just 11 percent of top earners and 26.5 percent of executive- or senior-level officials and managers at S&P 500 companies.


Unlike A Fine Wine, The Gender Gap Gets Worse With Age

According to research from AAUW, the gender pay gap widens as a woman ages. Data collected in 2016 showed that women ages 20-24 earned 96 percent of what their male colleagues took home. However, women ages 25-54 made 78 to 89 percent of what their male peers earned, while women ages 55-64 took home 74 percent of what men were paid.


There Are Economic Consequences To The Gender Pay Gap

The gender wage gap doesn't just hurt women: It hurts families and the economy too. A 2014 study found that nearly half of U.S. moms were the main income-earners for their household. The less money a woman brings home, the less money she has to feed, clothe, and house her family, and the less money she can funnel back into the economy. And don't be fooled — women are indeed putting money back into the economy: the women's consumer advocacy organization WomenCertified reported that women spend $4 trillion annually, making up 83 percent of all consumer spending in the United States.

While Equal Pay Day presents the perfect opportunity to call attention to the gender wage gap, it's also a time for action. Start by urging your local lawmakers to take action to close the gender wage gap in your state. Then, take your demands to federal lawmakers and urge Congress to pass an update to the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The AAUW can help you locate your legislators and put together some talking points about legislation aimed at closing the gender wage gap in the United States.