Over her lifetime, a woman loses between $700,000 and $2 million. At the college level, it seems like men and women are pretty equal. More women enroll in undergraduate programs. More graduating doctors and lawyers are female than male.
But when they get out into the working world, it's another story. Women earn 77 cents for every male dollar. After all the laws that were passed in the 60's and 70's, the wage gap began closing, but then, it started widening again. This is true in every field. Male doctors, lawyers, non-profit employees, custodians, teachers, and nurses all get paid more than women.
So, if we were to translate this into grades, men would be getting A's. Women would get C's. Minority women such as Latinas and blacks? Failing at 58 percent and C- at 70 percent, respectively. (These numbers, by the way, measure only full-time workers, not mothers who cut back their hours or stay home to raise children).
Women on the job are not paid as well as men. They start out, on average, at about 91 cents to a man's dollar after graduation. This is unfair in itself, but not a huge gap, right? Well, the gap only gets bigger because raises are usually given as a percentage. So, as they continue their careers the gap widens.
Then, if they become mothers, the mommy penalty is huge. Women who are mothers are offered lower positions and wages than non-mothers. Pregnant women still get fired and demoted all the time, even though that's illegal. While it's true that women often flock to stereotypically "female" jobs and that women take time off more than men, women are still disproportionately underpaid even when taking these factors into account.
I don't think all employers are evil woman-haters. In many cases, they try to pay all their employees, both male and female, as little as they can, not because they want to make employees miserable, but because they're trying to keep their expenses down so their business survive. In many cases, women don't realize they're being paid less, and their employers don't keep track of male vs. female salaries, so they don't realize it, either. And women are less likely to negotiate a pay raise and to compare pay rates than men are--not that they can't do it well, just that they don't.
But the best part of this book for me? I love how the authors point out the importance of getting women's pay even with men's pay. Some of us think we should sacrifice, that money doesn't or shouldn't matter,or that demanding higher pay is selfish. The authors put this financial difference into real terms we can relate to. With that money, you could have started a college fund for your child. You could have bought your child piano lessons or registered him or her for soccer. You could have paid that bill instead of wondering when the phone would be disconnected. For each woman, the story is different, but the principle remains the same--women need fair pay so they can support their families.