Welcome to Women’s History Month!
On March 1, the White House Council on Women and Girls released a report finding that while women have equalized or surpassed men in educational achievement, they simply aren’t paid for it. The bottom line — WOMEN EARN LESS, BUT SPEND MORE, and that hurts all of us.
The Good News
Women today are more likely than men to have a master’s degree. Women also comprise a nearly equal percentage of the labor force. Our earnings comprise a greater share of family income. Women live longer. And women today are less likely targets of violence.
The Bad News
Women’s salaries remain only about 75% of that of their male counterparts, regardless of educational level. Women, however, comprise a greater percentage of heads of households, and thus are more likely to live in poverty. Women of color are disproportionately affected. Women also face more health problems, despite living longer. The kicker is that women are less likely to have health insurance.
Long Term Impact
These are not starkly new statistics. However, it’s not always easy to fully connect the dots on the longer term impacts of these findings. So, what’s the calculus?
More education = more educational debt
More debt + less pay = less income
Less income + more children/family financial responsibility = greater likelihood of poverty
Less present salary = less money in retirement (b/c pensions & Social Security are based on earnings history) = higher retirement age
Higher retirement age + increased longevity + increased health problems + no/little health insurance = poor health & greater poverty = greater burden on younger family members (who are predominantly female caregivers)
Greater financial burdens on families = greater burdens on communities
So what does all of this mean? In the aggregate, it means that WOMEN ARE SUPER BECAUSE WE CONSISTENTLY DO MORE WITH LESS, but this is an inauspicious honor that lasts throughout a woman’s life. Isn’t it time we decide as a nation that we will finally fully embrace the ideals of the “Founding Fathers (and Mothers)” and treat (meaning PAY) all of us equally? Our futures, and those of our daughters and granddaughters depend on it.