Explaining the Wage Gap

@work: a career blog

Every year on National Equal Pay Day, activists recognize the point in the year that women’s pay catches up with her male equivalent. In 2016, Equal Pay Day will fall on April 12. The PR gimmick is designed to bring attention to the fact that women still earn about 78 percent of what men earn, decades after entering the workforce in significant numbers.

There are regulations in place to ensure that hourly workers who do the same job get paid equally, and it’s rare to see blatant discrimination based on gender. But there women do earn less over their lifetimes, for several reasons. They may take time off early in the careers to have and raise children, which can put them a few years behind their male peers. They often have the primary responsibility for family caretaking, making them more likely to work part-time or take jobs that require fewer…

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