One of the results of the march of time is that the gender pay gap is closing. Millennial women are catching up in terms of receiving equal pay for equal work.
However, the issue with the gender pay gap is that it’s not just a matter of getting equal pay for equal work. Over time, the issue with women’s finances is that, in many cases, it’s more about the long-term effects related to:
- Being dependent on a partner or someone else for finances, due to a traditional arrangement. Even if a woman has a part-time job, it is still fairly common for her to rely on a partner for most of her living.
- Traditionally filling the role of caregiver. Women often take time off for years to stay home with children, and when there are elderly that need to be taken care of, women are often the ones to do this.
These things are not bad things. They are admirable. They are things that many women want to do and feel fulfilled doing. I need my work, and mothering doesn’t appeal to me very much. There’s a reason that I only have one child, even though I work from home.
ANYWAY, the point is that the realities of our society and women’s traditional gender roles contribute situations in which women, regardless of whether or not they earn as much as men for the same work, have a lower earning power over their lifetimes than men.
Women might be leaving as much as $500,000 on the table over their lifetimes, because they don’t negotiate higher salaries, and because they miss out on earning years. Other studies point out that women are at greater risk of financial difficulty in their later years because they have longer average lifespans than men, but lower overall earnings, so they might not have what they need as they age.
If their partners have done well, and saved well, a woman might be provided for as she ages, but that means that she has to rely almost entirely on someone else for her financial well being. If the partner hasn’t done well, and a woman doesn’t have her own assets, then she could be in trouble.
And what about women whose partners pass on, leaving them to care for children or other dependents? That can be even worse, if the woman doesn’t have the education or skills to replace the lost income, and if there isn’t enough life insurance to cover. What happens as the result of divorce?
While it’s great that the pay gap is shrinking, and it should be shrinking, that doesn’t mean that women are financially stable, and it doesn’t solve all their problems. Especially since, as a woman, working toward your own financial solvency could actually jeopardize your marriage if you end up making more than your spouse.