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Men Earn More Than Women — Like, a Tesla's Worth More

Written by
Matt Pelkey, CFEI
During his time as the director of education for OppU, Matt Pelkey, CFEI, successfully implemented personal finance courses, scholarship opportunities, and financial literacy resources for students and adults of all ages.
Read time: 3 min
Updated on July 31, 2023
man with beard holding his eyes open in shock after hearing that men earn more than women — like, a Tesla’s worth more
Don't think the gender wage gap is a big deal? These new findings will change your mind.

Women have made great strides toward equality in the workforce in the past several decades. They now make up just under half the labor force and have taken on high-profile jobs that previous generations could only dream of. But while employment may provide women with autonomy and opportunities their grandmothers never received, they still aren’t getting the same salaries as their male counterparts. (They make 82 percent of what men make, actually.) Because of this, the gender wage gap is costing women — and the economy — hundreds of billions of dollars.

But what about women’s career choices?

It’s difficult to prove that the wage gap is entirely due to discrimination, and it may not be. The broad figures look at median income across different industries, and women tend to fall into careers with lower earning potential, often by choice. The majority of nurses and teachers are female, while the majority of executives and physicians are male.

That’s why it’s more accurate to look at gender disparities in pay within a specific industry. According to two recent studies, women physician researchers make 7 to 8 percent less annually than men.

Johns Hopkins University has been working to close that gap since 2002, when a report revealed that women weren’t getting the same promotions as men. This spurred the establishment of a committee that focused on recruitment efforts and exit interviews, developed supplemental sexual harassment education programs, and suggested analyzing annual salaries. These changes were implemented in 2006.

Do women physician researchers still earn less than men?

The gender pay gap at Johns Hopkins dropped from 2.6% in 2005 to 1.9% in 2016. That doesn’t sound like a huge difference, but over the course of a lifetime, researchers found, it adds up to a lot of money.

To determine just how much money women would lose over the course of their careers, researchers created simulations to show how much wealth a physician researcher would accumulate, taking into account promotions and retirement investment. Then, they calculated lifetime earnings using three distinct scenarios.

The study found that, without the committee’s efforts to narrow the pay gap, a woman hired in 2005 would earn $501,416 less over the course of her career than a man hired at the same time. Taking into account the committee’s efforts and the positive impact on pay and promotions, researchers calculated that a woman hired in 2005 would still accumulate $210,829 less than a male hire. And, now that the pay gap has decreased to 1.9%, a woman hired in 2016 would still earn $66,104 less than a man in the same position.

That’s enough to buy a Tesla, a condo, or an annual vacation.

What’s the takeaway?

Even a seemingly small disparity in pay between genders adds up to a lot of dough, and any difference at all in how men and women are compensated is unjust. The researchers also noted that wage disparities are likely for racial minority groups, and that greater educational debt for these groups leads to differences in savings for retirement.

"Johns Hopkins has been working very hard to eliminate existing pay gaps and we have made great strides in this area, but more work is needed to continuously ensure pay is fair for all of our faculty," Janice Clements, Ph.D., vice dean for faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

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