Female employees who take an extended leave make 7% less when they return to the office, a new study suggests — and the gender pay gap widens as they age.
Women who take an extended maternity leave are paying big time.
When female employees leave the workforce for one year or more, they make 7% less when they return, and have difficulty getting a promotion compared to an employee who’s currently working there and seeking the same job, PayScale’s new State of the Gender Pay Gap report shows.
Women are five times more likely than men to take breaks from working to have children, according to the report, and they’re penalized financially as a result. According to the study, while men and women enter the job market at similar, junior levels, women over 30 are more likely than men to remain in those individual contributor positions. Fifty-nine percent of women over 45 are still in non-management positions, versus 43% of men.
While working women face the gender wage gap at any age, it widens as they get older. The typical 20- to 29-year-old woman earns 81.8 cents on the dollar compared to her male counterparts, according to the PayScale report. But women aged 30 to 44 make 76.7 cents, while women aged 45 and up earn just 69.1 cents on a man’s dollar.
What’s more, over the course of their careers, men move into higher-level roles like supervisors and executives at significantly higher rates than women. By mid-career, men are 70% more likely to be in executive roles than women, and by late career, men are 142% more likely to be in VP or C-suite roles.
The three states with the greatest gender pay gaps are: Louisiana, where women earn 7.4% less than male colleagues; Alabama, where females make 7.1% less than male colleagues; and West Virginia, where women make 6.5% less. It’s worth noting that the oil and gas industry has the largest controlled pay gap — defined in the PayScale study as the cents on the dollar women earn versus men once variables such as experience, industry and job level are accounted for — at 7.4%, followed by transportation and warehousing at 4.9%. By contrast, technology and education have the lowest pay gaps at 0.8% and 0.6%, respectively.
“We’ll never close the pay gap if we don’t get serious about solving the opportunity gap. And, that also means thinking about policies and work culture evolutions that could help balance the burden between the genders of caring for children and other family members and alleviate the career and pay impact for women,” Lydia Frank, vice president at PayScale, said in a statement. “Employers should think about paid parental leave regardless of gender, onsite childcare, flexible work arrangements, etc.”
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