Aspiration & Struggle

Closing the Gender Pay Gap: Are Millennials the Key?

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Children look up to, and typically try to emulate, their parents. Each year, parents can show children what it is like to work for a living. Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is a 22 year tradition that began as a way to demonstrate working opportunities to daughters. A few years later, it expanded to encompass sons as well as daughters. And while a parent can teach their son or daughter about the working world, they may not mention how opportunities differ based on gender. Today, the gender pay gap still favors males over females.

Women Earn Less Than Men

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research recently released its findings on the gender pay gap, and the results show that women still earn less than men. Women who work full-time still only earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. And the Institute predicts that women will continue to earn less than men until the year 2058.

Millennial entrepreneur Lolita Taub understands this all too well. “I was paid less than my male counterpart for the same strategy consulting role, and I only found out after leaving the role,” said Taub.

Taub worked as a strategy and sales executive and left her job after working in the industry for more than seven years. After leaving her career, she became an entrepreneur and created The F SHOW, an interview-style series that aims to inspire Millennial female entrepreneurs.

But prior to leaving corporate America, Taub attempted to close the gender gap. She used and spoke with her connections to determine the market salary and benefits for each position she was offered. “Before I accepted my last couple of roles, I made sure to research salary, commission, and benefit packages thoroughly, and ask for [the numbers] my time is worth.”

Women in STEM Fields Are Top Earners

Choosing a more profitable occupation can also help close the gender pay gap. In particular, STEM careers, those in science, technology, engineering, and math, allow women to make strides toward higher earned income. The White House Office of Science and Technology reports that women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than women in other professions. They also encounter a smaller gender pay gap. The educational requirement for STEM careers isn’t what’s stopping women. In fact, 38 percent of women (ages 25-32) hold a bachelor’s degree compared to 31 percent of men, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As more women take on higher-paying positions, the gap in compensation has begun to close, and the Millennial generation is leading the way.

Millennials Are Closing the Gap

Millennials are steadily closing the gender pay gap. More Millennial women are studying in STEM fields, which means higher wage opportunities, and various movements have fought to decrease the gender pay gap. Take, for example, the HeForShe movement for gender equality, and the recent #78cents hashtag that has been embraced — by men and women alike — on social media. This trend has allowed users to speak out for gender equality.

In one state, New York, Millennial women are already out-earning men. Millennial women also earn more than women of past generations. This data is promising, but is overshadowed by the expected year the gap will close for all women. The data shows that in California, where Taub resides, the gender wage gap is not expected to close until the year 2042. By then, the youngest Millennial will be 44 and the oldest 61. And the final state to close the gap, Wyoming, is not expected to do so until the year 2159. The Millennial generation will be long gone by then.

While it is important to show your sons and daughters the opportunities that exist in the workplace, it is also just as important for your daughters to receive equal pay when they do enter the workforce. As you bring your sons and daughters to work, or witness your colleagues bringing their children to work, remember that equal opportunities do not always mean equal pay, and education on equal rights can begin at any age.

LaTisha Styles is a motivational speaker, millennial money expert, and spokesperson specializing in simple finance for millennials. LaTisha is the producer and host of Young Finances TV, a weekly series featuring funny, insightful videos on the basics of personal finance. LaTisha has been quoted in Forbes and Mainstreet, featured in The Economist, and mentioned in US News as a top personal finance expert to follow on Twitter. You can follow LaTisha on Twitter for daily millennial money tips to budget, invest and achieve success!