Study: Gendered pay gap is getting worse

Published: Monday, March 11 2013 12:20 p.m. MDT

** FILE ** In this Jan. 22, 2009 file photo. Lilly Ledbetter, an Alabama Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. worker, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Congress sends the White House its first legislation in Barack Obama's presidency, a bill that allows women to sue retroactively for pay and other workplace discrimination that occurred years, even decades in the past. It has been a priority for women's groups seeking to narrow the wage gap between men and women. More than four decades after the 1964 Civil Right Act banned wage disparity based gender race, women still receive only about 78 cents for every dollar earned by me doing the same work. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Susan Walsh, AP

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The pay gap between men and women increased between 2011 and 2012, according to a new report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research. From the report:

"In 2012, the ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly full-time earnings was 80.9 percent, a decline of more than one percentage point since 2011 when the ratio was 82.2 percent. This corresponds to a weekly gender wage gap of 19.1 percent for 2012. Women’s median weekly earnings in 2012 were $691, a marginal decline compared to 2011; men’s median weekly earnings were $854, a marginal increase compared to 2011."

On average, this means that women earn $163 less each week than men. Over the course of a woman's career, that adds up to almost half a million dollars, according to a report from the Center for American Progress. Analysts there note the ways the wage gap makes life more difficult for women:

Because of this gap women working full time are able to afford less education, housing, transportation, food and health care for themselves and their families than their male counterparts. As a result, women and female-headed households are more likely to be in poverty and less likely to have health insurance. The pay gap translates into a significant economic disadvantage for women and their families, especially when nearly two-thirds (63.9 percent) of women are now either the primary breadwinner or a co-breadwinner, bringing home at least 25 percent of their family’s income.

The Center for American Progress created an infographic to show what women might be able to do with the money lost over her lifetime. Possibilities include feeding a family for four for 37 years, pay for seven four-year university degrees or save money to boost her quality of life at retirement.

A more pronounced gender gap this year may be evidence of economic rebound, according to a report from the Institute for Leadership and Management. "Men operate in sectors that were hit hardest by the effects of the worldwide recession, meaning they have experienced pay cuts and reductions in working hours more often than women," according to the report. "The discrepancy decreases during times of downturn and rises when a country's economy is growing," they add.

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