How would you feel if your co-worker got paid more for doing the same exact work? That’s what it’s like being a woman in 2019. Statistics show that men are paid more for their work than women. Some people calculate the gap between pay for men and women by the median annual pay of men and women who work full-time all year-round. Other times the pay gap is calculated based on weekly or hourly earnings. However, you slice it the gender pay gap is real and threatens the financial security of women.

Who gets paid what

According to the Pew Research Center, the gender pay gap has narrowed since 1980 but it still exists and has remained stable over the last 15 years. Research shows that women earned only 85 percent of what men earned in 2018. This was based on the median hourly earnings of full-time and part-time workers in the U.S. The gap was even wider when the Census Bureau calculated the pay for full-time year-round working women. That means women have to work an extra 39 days to earn what a man makes.

Their figures showed that women only made 80 percent of what their male counterparts made. The American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) figures show that women made even less than that in 2017. And those figures drop when it comes to certain races and ethnicities. AAUW’s figures show that white women make only 77 percent of what white men earn while Asian women earned 85 percent. Black women earned 61 percent, Native Hawaiin and other Pacific Islander’s made only 62 percent, American Indians or Alaskan Natives made 58 percent, with Latina or Hispanic women making the lowest amount at 53 percent.

Why women get paid less

AAUW tells us that the pay gap varies from state to state. This is because there are certain industries that dominate certain states and there are specific opportunities that come with them. Other factors include regional differences in attitude and beliefs about work and gender, as well as the scope and strength of state, pay discrimination laws and policies. The Pew Research Center says that factors like educational attainment, occupational segregation, and work experience also affect the gender pay gap. They say that the narrowing of the gap has been attributed to women making gains in these areas. Gender discrimination is another reason women are paid less than women.

A survey by Pew Research Center found that four in 10 working women say they’ve experienced gender discrimination at work compared to only two in 10 men. One in four women said they earned less than a man who was doing the same exact job. Personal choices like taking family, parental, or medical leave also affect pay and opportunities for wage increases and advancement since women are more likely to take time off than men. “Family caregiving responsibilities, particularly motherhood, can lead to interruptions in career paths for women and can have an impact on long-term earnings,” a Pew Research Center press article said.

What women can do to close the gap

Women start getting paid less early on in their careers. That’s why it’s crucial for women to negotiate their pay and benefits. Not only when they are first hired to a job but throughout their career. Economist Linda Babcock says that women can lose out on $750,000 over their lifetime when they fail to negotiate for $5,000 more in annual salary early in their career. Women also need to realize when they are being underpaid. And they need to do the research so they can prove it. This gives them more leverage when they negotiate. Talk to your fellow employees about their salaries. Go online and research the going rate for your job in your community. You can also seek out organizations that help women to succeed. Another important way to help close the gender pay gap is to support legislators and legislation that supports equal pay.