Women in the United States are paid less for equal work than men in almost all industries and a new report released on Thursday showed the widest discrepancy in wages is between married men and women with children.
Fathers have the highest median annual salary, about $67,900, compared with $46,800 for married mothers, and single women with children have the lowest median salary, at $38,200.
“The gender pay gap is absolutely real,” said Aubrey Bach, a senior editorial manager of PayScale Inc., the online salary, benefits and compensation information company that compiled the report.
“Half or more of our workforce is made of women, but we are still not progressing at the same level as men,” she added.
While men's salaries keep increasing until the age of 50 to 55, reaching a median salary of $75,000, the report showed women's wages hit a plateau at 35 to 40 years old, at about $49,000.
The gender pay gap widens as the job level increases, with male executives earning many times more than their female counterparts.
Women are paid significantly more than men in just a handful of professions, such as modeling, and according to the Census Bureau, earn slightly more, on average, in nine fields.
PayScale calculated the gender pay gap by analyzing data from a poll of 1.4 million full-time employees. It used an algorithm to estimate the controlled median pay for women by adjusting for factors such as experience, education, skills, company size, management responsibility and other factors.
The report found the largest gender pay gaps in the mining, quarrying and gas exploration industries and the smallest in technology jobs, where the ratio of men to women is 70 to 30 percent.
“If a woman can get into the tech industry and stay there, it is a kind of a meritocracy,” said Bach. “You are going to be paid equally. Unfortunately, when you look at the demographic, very few women go into the tech industry, especially in technical roles, which are the most highly paid.”
In four states — Alaska, Delaware, Michigan and Washington — the most common job for men has a median income higher than $100,000, according to the report, but there are no states in which the most common job for women exceeds $77,000.
"A big reason for the gender pay gap is that men and women tend to work in different jobs. Men dominate higher-paying jobs — engineering, construction and mining — and women dominate jobs like teaching and social work," Bach explained.
Research has shown that women do not negotiate for salary increases as often or for as much as men, and they still face the maternal wall, when companies expect them to leave to care for children, which contributes to the pay gap.
Despite the value of education, the report found it does not solve the problem because the gap was widest among men and women with Ph.D.s, followed by MBA holders.
“Companies in the past haven’t linked the return on investment for fostering diverse workforces,” Bach said, “and they haven’t been aware of the really subtle behaviors that are preventing women from getting hired in high-paying roles or rising to executive levels.”