The Gender Wage Gap Gets Worse for Women at 32 — And It’s Not Ok

Getting older sucks – a fact that is even truer if you are female.

Not only can it be seen optically and, ahem, in other ways heading south, according to a new study the wage gap actually increases as we celebrate more and more birthdays.

A new study of 165,000 U.S workers found that there’s a magic number for when that gender gap widens.

*Drumroll, please*


They say that age is just a number – but unfortunately in the case of women, it’s a number that has far fewer zeros on the end of it on our pay cheques.

Women in their thirties are making a decidedly smaller share of the salaries their male counterparts are bringing home. So much so, in fact, that between the ages of 31 and 40 the difference in female earnings jumps from making 90 per cent to 82 per cent of what men do.

So why does the gender gap widen for women in their 30s? Is it a generational issue?

On the contrary. The study, commissioned by Visier, found that the gap did not consistently widen with the aging population, instead seeing a narrowing after the age of 55.

Image: Visier

Image: Visier

Well, perhaps the men are just doing a better job than us ladies and we should pull our socks up?

Nope, our socks are already pulled high. Not only was there a lack of bias towards men in performance evaluations, women actually received higher performing appraisals than men across most age groups.

Finally, once the researchers had trawled through the statistics, they came across the missing link.

The Manager Divide.

The sweet sour spot for ladies is at age 32, when people begin to move into more senior, managerial roles. However, since they are often overlooked for promotions, they can still be waiting to catch a break while their male colleagues of the same age are progressing in their careers.

From 32 onwards, women are promoted at the same rate as men, but men are more likely to be promoted into manager roles than women.

And since managers tend to earn two times the wage of non-manager roles, this underrepresentation of women in these positions directly drives the gender wage gap.

Image: Visier

Image: Visier

Sometimes it can feel like we’re taking one step forward only to take two steps back. And unless you’re a fan of dancing the Samba, this can be very frustrating for women.

While it’s great that we’re moving in the right direction overall, it’s clear from this study that we still have a long way to go if we want to catch up.

Image: Visier

Image: Visier

As the University of Essex showed us earlier this month, we don’t need to overcomplicate things with an in-depth discussion of the gender gap. By boosting their female professors’ salaries to bring them in line with their male employees, the institution has made an important move towards combatting inherent sexism in the industry.

So what’s the take home from all of this? The pay gap sucks, but it needn’t have to. We suggest you start earning that promotion at work right away.

Because your 55th birthday is wayyy too far away to wait for a pay rise.