10 Stats You Should Know on Equal Pay Day

By Shane Steele
April 4, 2017

Equal Pay Day always falls during the second week of April to symbolize how much longer women have to work in order to earn what men earned by December 31, 2016. There’s no single cause for the pay gap, which means there’s no silver bullet to closing the gap. But we can start by getting educated on the issue and who it impacts.

1. Women earn 83% of what men earn

In 2017, women earned 82% of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time U.S. workers. The 18-percent difference between men’s and women’s earnings means that women are paid less than roughly $4 for every $5 paid to men.

According to the Gender Pay Inequality Report put out by the United States Congress, a woman working full-time earns $10,800 less per year than a man, based on median annual earnings. This disparity can add up to close to a half million dollars over a career.

2. The pay gap is even worse for mothers

According to the American Association of University Women, Mothers must work an extra 155 days to catch up to their male counterparts.

Women with children are often pushed out of the workplace due to a lack of sufficient parental leave policies and flexible schedules. Those who do stay in the workforce are subjected to the “motherhood penalty” with which we will lose 4 percent in lifetime earnings, a figure purely attributable to bias against working mothers.

3. The gender gap grows with age

Women today begin their careers earning almost as much as their male colleagues. Those between the ages of 18 and 24 earn approximately 88 percent of what their male counterparts earn. After 35, the median earnings for women are 74–82 percent of what men are paid. Men are also 85 percent more likely than women to be VPs or C-Suite Execs by mid-career.

4. Women of color are most affected

The pay gap affects all women regardless of age, background, or education, however, women of color are disproportionately affected. According to a report by the National Women’s Law Center, Black women earn, on average, only 63 cents for every dollar paid to a man, while Native and Latina women earn even less, at 58 cents and 54 cents respectively.

6. The financial industry has the worst pay gap

Women who work in highly paid fields such as finance, public service, and medicine feel the most economic pain from the pay gap. According to PayScale, finance and insurance showed the largest pay gap with women earning 29% less than men. Healthcare and social assistance had the fourth highest gap, even though women held 80% of the jobs in this industry, illustrating that even female-dominated sectors can have a gender pay gap.

7. Education doesn’t impact the gender pay gap

While advanced education can be a path to increased earnings, it does not appear to mitigate the gender pay gap.  At every level of academic achievement, women’s median earnings are less than men’s, and in some instances, the gender pay gap is larger at higher levels of education.

Women’s median earnings are lower at every level of education. In fact, women are often out-earned by men with less education: the typical woman with a graduate degree earns $5,000 less than the typical man with a bachelor’s degree.

8. The gender pay gap means more student debt for women

According to AAUW’s research report Graduating to a Pay Gap, between 2009 and 2012, men who graduated in the 2007–08 school year paid off an average of 44 percent of their student debt, while women in that group managed to pay off only 33 percent of their student debt. The gap in student loan repayment is even larger for black and Hispanic women with college degrees.

9. We’re still a long way off for pay equality

Although the gender pay gap in the United States has narrowed over time, if change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past fifty years, it will not close until 2059, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.  Hispanic women will have to wait until 2248 and Black women will wait until 2124 for equal pay.

10. Despite less pay, women-led companies perform 3X better than the SP500

Quantopian, a Boston-based trading platform based on crowdsourced algorithms, pitted the performance of Fortune 1000 companies that had women CEOs between 2002 and 2014 against the S&P 500’s performance during that same period. The comparison showed that the 80 women CEOs during those 12 years produced equity returns 226% better than the S&P 500.


The impact of women in the workplace can be seen at a broader level as well. According to the Council of Economic Advisors, women’s increased participation in the paid labor force has been a major driver of economic growth in recent decades. In fact, they say the U.S. economy is $2 trillion bigger today than it would have been if women had not increased their participation and hours since 1970. That’s a lot of zeros! Imagine how much more our economy will grow when we close that gap once and for all.

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