The higher women climb, the less they get paid compared to men at the same level.

Becoming a member of the top 1% requires some serious loot — an income of about $390,000 in the U.S., according to data released last year by the Economic Policy Institute. And you’re far more likely to make it into that coveted group if you’re a man, according to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, which examined the gender breakout of the 1% from 1981 – 2012.

Indeed, women make up only 10.5% of earners from the top 0.1% of the income spectrum and 17% of earners from the second 0.9% of the income spectrum, according to the data looking at the 2008-12 period. Even more shocking, that’s a fairly significant improvement from the 1981-85 period, when those numbers were 1.9% and 3.3%, respectively.

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There are many reasons for the under-representation of women in the top 1%. NBER notes that “career interruptions for family reasons” like having a child explain some of it. Other experts point out that women tend to opt for career paths that pay less than men. For example, women are more likely to opt for careers in social work and human resources, while men are more likely to opt for STEM careers. And women are less likely to make it to the top tier of positions within companies.

But there’s another — lesser known — reason that may be contributing to this: the pay gap, as it relates to income. Top-earning women earn significantly less than top-earning men.

Indeed, a study released by the Economic Policy Institute found that “the gap between men and women’s wages is smaller for lower-wage earners.” Specifically, the pay gap between the lowest 10th percentile of earners is that women make 91% of men’s wages; meanwhile, when you look at those who are in the 95th percentile of earners, the pay gap is 79% of men’s wages for women.

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Furthermore, when you look at the wage gap among the top 2% of income earners in the U.S. an even starker picture arises, with women in some states earning only about half what men make, according to an analysis by finance site This would mean that many women — even those in the top 2% — would not make it into the top 1%.