Board meeting with female majority.
Gender pay equity is still something that plagues U.S. workplaces. Photo: Pixabay.

Women lose almost $1 million in a lifetime of work due to the gender wage gap, per new report

Payscale Inc.'s new report on the gender pay gap calculates its cost.


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Payscale Inc., the leading provider of compensation data, software and services, recently dropped its 2023 Gender Pay Gap Report (GPGR), and there's some pretty stark revelations.

This year's results, released on Equal Pay Day, found that gender still affects the pay for women throughout the country.

According to the analysis, which highlights how women earn $0.83 for every dollar men earn when only gender is taken into account, the labor market only improved that margin by one cent in 2023 compared to the previous year. It still adds up to an estimated lifetime earnings loss of at least $900,000 for women when compared to men.

When more data is examined to incorporate ‘equal pay for equal work’ for the same job title, education, years of experience, and hours worked, women also only earn $0.99 for every dollar men earn.

Despite being only a penny, Payscale said in its report that it can translate into a significant loss of earnings over the course of a career, meaning women with the same job and qualifications will earn $70,000 less on average than their male counterparts.

“The uncontrolled gender pay gap, often called the ‘opportunity gap,’ tells us that high-earning, prestigious jobs favor men while women’s work is less valued. The controlled gender pay gap tells us that women are still paid less than men for equal work, for no attributable reason,” said Ruth Thomas, pay equity strategist at Payscale.

By the numbers

To illustrate the true impact of lost earnings, Payscale's GPGR exposed factors and biases that can undermine women's pay, including:

  • Women who are mothers experience an uncontrolled wage gap of $0.75 for every dollar that fathers earn, and $0.98 for every dollar that fathers earn with the same job characteristics.
  • The gender pay gap also widens as women move up the corporate ladder, with female executives earning $0.72 compared to male executives when data is not controlled and $0.95 when data is controlled for the same job and qualifications.
  • Women are also less likely to be promoted as often or as quickly as men. Only 4% of women hold executive positions compared to 8% of men.
  • Race and gender also intersect to result in wider pay gaps for women of color. American Indian and Alaska Native women earn $0.72 for every dollar white men earn. When the data is controlled for compensating factors, American Indian and Alaska Native women, Black women, and White women do not receive the same pay for the same work.

Additionally, the GPGR found that pay gaps vary by industry. The uncontrolled gender pay gap is widest in finance and insurance ($0.77), and in agencies and consulting groups ($0.84). Both have a higher proportion of female workers, but more men fill executive roles. Controlling for comparable factors, the technology, engineering and science, real estate, education, and healthcare sectors achieved pay equity in 2023.

“The gender pay gap is pervasive and stubborn, progressing at a glacial pace over the past 20 years. Fortunately, with the rise of pay transparency legislation, we anticipate that real headway will be made toward achieving fair and equal pay for all,” said Lulu Seikaly, senior corporate employment attorney at Payscale. 

Innovation for Equity

According to the report, which also offered the positive news that more employers are getting on board.

The results showed that 78% of organizations have salary transparency or are improving data, structures and pay equity to achieve it, and 45% publish salary ranges in job postings, double compared to 2022.

Payscale recently launched a beta version of Fair Pay Insights for its Payfactors platform, which helps organizations maintain pay equity throughout the year by monitoring these dynamics that can arise as compensation decisions are made throughout the year.

The software visualizes the deltas of the pay gap between benchmark and non-reference employee groups, gender and ethnic representation in roles, and how pay for each group differs compared to the market index.

“These regulations force employers to prioritize pay equity within their organizations. Soon, pay transparency will be table stakes for attracting and retaining talent, regardless of the laws,” added Seikaly.

The 2023 Gender Pay Gap Report considered data from more than 758,000 people in the U.S., who took Payscale's online pay survey between January 2021 and January 2023.


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