Nothing was sweeter than watching the U.S. National Women’s soccer team bring home their first world championship in 16 years earlier this month. But their victory also put a spotlight on the shocking pay gap that divides female and male athletes today.
Women soccer players can earn as little as $6,000 per year. Male players earn a minimum of $60,000. This is one of the most dramatic examples of wage disparity today, but what about women working off the soccer field — in hospitals, courtrooms and offices around the country?
In the video above, we take a look at the 5 jobs with the widest gender pay gaps in America, according to the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank:
5. Housekeeping supervisors
4. Money managers
2. Physicians and surgeons
1. Financial advisors
On average, women in America earn 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. And although the wage gap has gotten much narrower over the last 30 years, that progress is beginning to plateau. Women’s earnings have remained largely unchanged in the last decade, according to a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Researchers have been stumped by the wage gap in America for years, and experts say it could take another 40 years for the wage gap to finally close because there are so many different factors at play.
Claudia Goldin, an economics professor at Harvard University, says the solution to closing the gender pay gap could lie in the hands of employers themselves: by creating work environments that encourage flexible, family-friendly work schedules. Part of the reason the gap is higher in lucrative fields like medicine and financial services is because workers are rewarded substantially for working longer hours, the kind of hours a working woman with a family to care for can't always commit to.
"The gender gap in hourly compensation would vanish if firms did not have a financial incentive to pay employees working 80 hours a week more than twice what they would receive for 40-hour weeks," she writes in the July issue of the Milken Institute Review.
Childcare costs have never been higher — exceeding $11,000 per year on average — and the U.S. is one of few developed nations that doesn’t have a universal child care system. It's widely accepted that access to good, affordable daycare could help shrink the gender pay gap. In two-parent households, it sometimes makes more financial sense for one parent to quit their job and stay home rather than shell out cash for daycare. And although there are more stay-at-home dads today than ever before, this duty still largely falls to women.
“Because women still are socially and individually responsible for the brunt of home care, it’s often women who end up scaling back their work hours,” says Sarah Jane, director of women's economic policy at CAP. “That ends up having a disproportionate impact on their wages.”
The U.S. is also the only developed country in the world that doesn’t mandate paid maternity leave, which makes it harder for women who want to advance in their careers and also take time to start a family. We could encourage women to negotiate more often for higher pay but that’s not entirely fair -- studies have shown hiring managers resent, rather than respect, women who negotiate.