The long-held notion that men, as breadwinners, should be paid more than women holding the same job has stopped being valid decades ago. The family unit has evolved with women and men sharing the responsibilities. What’s more, paying someone less for doing the same job because of their sex (or race) has been illegal since the Equal Pay Act of 1963. And though the gender pay gap has slowly narrowed over the decades, it continues to persist.
The gender income gap persists even though in some high-paying jobs, such as financial analysts, financial managers, and physicians and surgeons, women hold 40% or more of the positions. In fact, in some of these higher-paying professions, the gender gap is even wider.
Even stars playing for the women’s U.S. soccer team — which has a better winning record and a larger audience than the men’s team — are paid lower wages than players in the men’s team.
The gender pay gap is not a uniquely U.S. problem. It exists even in the best countries for working women. In the United States, which ranks No. 8, women earn just 79.3% as much as men in comparable jobs.
Perhaps because for centuries women worked at home for free, it has been posited that women’s work — in general — is not valued as highly as men’s work, and there is evidence to back that up. For example, as more women find work in fields once dominated by men, such as design and biology, the average pay tends to drop.
A 2013 study by the Pew Research Center found that women were the sole breadwinners of a record 40% of households with children. And yet, there has been little lasting progress on narrowing the income inequality gap.