Women & Money: The Pay Gap

BOSTON (CBS) – Eighteen million women were in the work force in 1950, today, half the workforce is comprised of women. 70 percent of those women are juggling work and home and kids under 18.

After the great Depression of the 30s and during World War II many women needed to work much like today to support their families. Companies found they could pay the women less than they had paid the men.

Although better educated than their mothers and grandmothers, today’s women are still not earning as much as men. Women earn on average here in Massachusetts $0.77 cents to every $1 paid to men. A report released by the General Accounting Office, indicated that women actually lost ground in some fields; medicine, finance, insurance and even in education which is so often thought of as a women’s field.

What does this mean for women? If we look at an average $50,000 a year income over a lifetime career of 45 work years one will have earned $2.25 million and if a woman only earns 80% of that, $40,000 a year, she will have earned $1.8 million.

That’s almost half a million dollars ($450,000) less than her male co-worker. The less money she earns the less she has to save to reach her goals of a comfortable retirement, educating her children, and buying a home.

And the less she earns the smaller her Social Security benefit will be.

When looking at a college education one should earn a marketable degree. Something that will help you find a job upon graduation. Pharmacist, nurse, computer analyst, engineer. Art History sounds so avant-garde and fun as a career. Well minor in it and major in computer science!

Women need to know what the going salary is for work they do. They need to know what they are worth. And they need to ask for it. They also should consider going into fields that pay higher wages.

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