Opportunity

Too Young for the Gender Pay Gap? Guess Again.

Women stand to make less money than men for doing the same job from the moment they cross the stage at college graduation, The Washington Post reports.

The Economic Policy Institute findings show pay disparities start even earlier in careers than frequently assumed, and they widened significantly for new members of the workforce in the past year.

It's not just CEOs or even middle management, either — the gender pay gap starts as early as a first job. What's more, the study found that these disparities significantly widened for young workers in the past year, dropping from 84 cents to a man's dollar for the same job down to 79 cents.

Equal pay is getting more and more attention these days, and the report is just one in a line of data points and conversations about the issue. Equal Pay Day, the date that symbolizes how far into the year women on average must work in order to earn what men earned in the previous year, started in 1996 and has gained a good deal of traction and attention since. Everyone, from celebrities to major brands to political figures, is joining the conversation and advocating for equal pay, more swiftly and sooner.

But why is it impacting those newest to the workforce? One theory is that some of the highest-paying career fields tend to be dominated by men, and that wage growth in those fields over the last year, coupled with wage stagnation in other fields, exacerbated the gap — even at the earliest career stages. Another theory: discrimination.

The gender pay gap in the broader labor force has steadily declined since the 1980s, but these findings show that there is still work ahead if we're to reach equal pay before 2059. Whatever the root cause, the pay gap is pervasive, persistent and, if it starts from Day 1 on your first job, that makes it an inevitability for most.

For resources on how you can help close the pay gap, visit equality.gapinc.com.