Written by by Forbes Staff
Here’s some eye-opening news for any woman who dreams of becoming a doctor. Women earn more than $2 million less than men in their careers, even when adjusting for factors like education, experience and parental leave, a new report from The National Partnership for Women & Families and Rutgers University says.
“This report shows a pattern where women are not afforded the same opportunities. Particularly challenging for our democracy is a gender wage gap. It’s sad that we have political leadership that fails to recognize the problem,” said Gillian SteelFisher, senior vice president of government affairs for The National Partnership.
When calculating the earnings gap between men and women, the researchers considered the following factors: gender, race and ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, years in school, entry-level job income, length of experience, inflation rate, female-to-male gross/net earnings ratio, parental leave, education, number of medical school classes attended and ratio of recipients of fellowships to all recipients of fellowships.
Researchers say that the annual earnings gap ranged from $17,416 for white and Latina women to $63,421 for black and Latina women.
But it gets even more embarrassing when researchers compared the earnings of both men and women with male and female-to-male earnings ratios. While women earned $2.02 million less than men, the disparity was actually higher when the ratio was added to determine men’s pay.
It goes to show that what may seem like a typical salary difference when comparing an average salary for similar work, there are many factors besides gender that can affect an individual’s compensation.
Some of those factors could be educational, of course, where women aren’t getting the same opportunities as men, whether they’ve taken parental leave, raised children, have moved to a different locale or worked at a lower level. And some might be gendered in nature, like women being more inclined to give back to their communities, volunteering more or having a love for wellness and health.
But perhaps the biggest factor driving the earnings gap, is women delaying childbirth and continuing their education.
Women in the 25-34 year old bracket need to have eight additional years of education than men to earn the same amount of money, according to Rutgers University. For women in the 25-34 year old bracket, employers are expecting to pay them about $88,000 more over their career than men — even after adjusting for gender, education and other factors.
And in regards to insurance, according to a 2012 report from the Corporation for Enterprise Development, more than half of women with jobs with health care at their companies pay more in premiums than their male counterparts. Of those women, 51% of unmarried women are either financially or personally responsible for health insurance premiums that are higher than that of their male counterparts.
There are a number of avenues that the researchers looked at in this study that can further narrow the gap. Maybe one of the biggest is strengthening state laws that would require companies to take the pay and advancement of men and women equally. According to the researchers, this might be one way to change the “hidden wage gap” between men and women.
They also point to a November report from Emily’s List which said that when older women — those from ages 50 to 64 — left the labor force, median annual earnings fell by a staggering $1.5 million, from $102,600 to $50,100.
And the cause of this rapid retirement was much more than a lack of advancement within the workplace. Just 39% of women left the workforce because they grew frustrated with low pay or the inability to advance within their work environments. Rather, it was because of men marrying, going to school, having children and returning to work to make up for lost income, Emily’s List says.