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New gender pay gap study shows how many more days a woman must work to earn as much as a man

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A new study reveals just how much men are earning more than women and why the gender pay gap still exists in 2022.

In 2020, women earned 84% of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full and part-time workers. Based on this estimate, it would take an extra 42 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2020.

The study was conducted in the United States, which arguably has some of the highest salaries in the world, which indicates that markets such as the UK, where professional salaries can be much lower, have much more catching up to do. Add the challenges of the 2022 Cost of Living Crisis and a woman’s ability in the UK to make ends meet is harder then ever before in the past decade.

Why does the gender pay gap still persist?  

In 2019, full-time, year-round working women in the US earned 82% of what their male counterparts earned, according to the Census Bureau’s most recent analysis.

Much of this gap has been explained by measurable factors such as educational attainment, occupational segregation and work experience. The narrowing of the gap is attributable in large part to gains women have made in each of these dimensions, said the study.

Even though women have increased their presence in higher-paying jobs traditionally dominated by men, such as professional and managerial positions, women as a whole continue to be overrepresented in lower-paying occupations relative to their share of the workforce. This may contribute to gender differences in pay.

Pew Research Center

Gender discrimination is still very real

Other factors that are difficult to measure, including gender discrimination, may also contribute to the ongoing wage discrepancy, said the report.

In a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, about four-in-ten working women (42%) said they had experienced gender discrimination at work, compared with about two-in-ten men (22%). One of the most commonly reported forms of discrimination focused on earnings inequality. One in four employed women said they had earned less than a man who was doing the same job; just 5% of men said they had earned less than a woman doing the same job.

Motherhood: how it’s interrupting career paths

Motherhood can also lead to interruptions in women’s career paths and have an impact on long-term earnings. Pew’s 2016 survey of workers who had taken parental, family or medical leave in the two years prior to the survey found that mothers typically take more time off than fathers after birth or adoption.

The median length of leave among mothers after the birth or adoption of their child was 11 weeks, compared with one week for fathers. About half (47%) of mothers who took time off from work in the two years after birth or adoption took off 12 weeks or more.

Mothers were also nearly twice as likely as fathers to say taking time off had a negative impact on their job or career. Among those who took leave from work in the two years following the birth or adoption of their child, 25% of women said this had a negative impact at work, compared with 13% of men.

Once women become mothers, juggling family caregiving responsibilities and work can be a challenge. “Mothers, even those who are married and work full time, tend to carry a larger load at home than fathers when it comes to these tasks,” said the report.

In a 2019 survey, mothers with children younger than 18 were more likely than fathers to say they needed to reduce their work hours, felt like they couldn’t give full effort at work and turned down a promotion because they were balancing work and parenting responsibilities.

Roughly one-in-five mothers said they had been passed over for an important assignment or a promotion at work, while 27% said they had been treated as if they weren’t committed to their work.

Overall, Americans see equal pay as central to gender equality. The same is the case across Europe and the UK.

In a 2020 survey, 45% of those who said it’s important for women to have equal rights with men volunteered equal pay as a specific example of what a society with gender equality might look like. This response trumped other items such as women not being discriminated against for their gender or women being equally represented in leadership positions.

Note: This report is an update of a post originally published on March 22, 2019. Former Pew Research Center staff Nikki Graf and Eileen Patten contributed to this analysis.

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