Survey finds women’s earnings peak 11 years earlier than men, and they earn $35,00 less

PayScale obtained this data by examining a sample of more than 1.4 million workers who took their salary survey between April 2016 and April 2019.

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College-educated women’s earnings peak a median 11 years earlier than men’s earnings – and they earn $35,000 less, according to data from a new report by salary site PayScale.

Pay for women peaks at age 44, with earnings of an average of $66,700 a year, according to Payscale, while men’s earnings peak at age 55 at an average of $101,200.


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PayScale obtained this data by examining a sample of more than 1.4 million workers who took their salary survey between April 2016 and April 2019. The sample included workers age 22 to 60 with a Bachelor’s degree and looked across 22 industries.

The gender gap begins almost as soon as men and women begin their careers; at age 22, the median wage for women was $40,400, in comparison to $52,500 for men.

The disparity is even more revealing once you select by race as well as gender. Black women’s income peaked at $61,000 at the average aver of 52 – the lowest of all demographics measured.

Black men also have low peaks – the lowest among the males studied. Their average earnings peaked at $80,000 at age 59, the lowest among the males studied.

Of course, between the ages of 29-38, many educated women begin to have children, resulting in the “motherhood penalty” on salary and availability of hours and even her job. Many reduce the number of hours they work. According to the report, “This becomes more clear when we look at which occupations have the largest gaps in wage growth. ‘Greedy’ jobs, i.e. those that pay a premium for working long hours, have the largest divergence in the growth rate of wages for men and women.”

Some of those occupations – often high-paying – are industries like law. In the legal field, women reach their peak earnings at age 35, with a median salary of $75,000. While it can be surmised that many took a financial hit to have a child; men went on to reach their peak earnings of $168,800 at age 56.

Other industries with large gender pay gaps are healthcare, sales, life sciences, and management.


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.