What you could buy with the gender pay gap

When President Obama mentioned the US gender pay gap during his State of the Union address last week, he declared his commitment to the Paycheck Fairness Act that would ensure women earn "a living equal to their efforts".

So far, it seems he's only referring to a pipe dream. According to numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 U.S women who worked full-time earned just 80.9% of the salaries of their male counterparts.

That adds up to approximately $10,784 in lost salary each year according to The National Partnership for Women and Families. It's a number that's dipped one full percentage point since 2011 and takes any progress in closing the American gender pay gap all the way back to 2005.

Forbes has calculated the pay gap and come up with a few ideas on how women might spend the extra money based on their locations- and it isn't just a bit of pocket change.

The $10,784 could see women afford:

  • 1.7 years worth of groceries in Washington
  • Mortgage and utilities for 4 months in New York
  • Rent for 14 months in Wisconsin
  • Family health insurance premiums for 3.7 years in Connecticut
  • College tuition for three semesters at a State University in New York
  • Nearly $800,000 in retirement savings (based on an assumed 25-year career)


In Australia, our numbers don't fare much better. The national gender pay gap hovers at around 17.5 %, and a report by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency in January found the Graduate gender pay gap had doubled since 2011, now sitting at $5000 per annum.

As of August 2012, the average full-time working woman took home $252.80 less per week than a male who also worked full-time. That's extra cash that could pay a week's rent in Sydney, or a few trips to the supermarket.

There's still a way to go until we reach gender pay equity. Until then, we can always dream.

What would you buy with the gender pay gap?

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