GROWING UP IN THE GAP
ONE WOMAN'S LOOK AT DATA VISUALIZATIONS TO SEE THE LIFETIME IMPACT OF GENDER PAY INEQUALITY
By Miranda Heydt
"So, what do you want to be when you grow up?" The answer can change as frequently as a little kid’s favorite color.
In elementary school I wanted to be a vet and spend the day playing with puppies. In middle school, playing piano was my favorite way to pass the time, so of course I’d be a wedding pianist. I started thinking more practically in high school and realized playing piano might not be able to pay the bills.
There were a lot of options to weigh before settling on my statistics major. Again, would I be able to pay the bills? Would I enjoy it 10 years from now? How are women treated in this field?
Now, I’ll guess about half of you reading this didn’t consider that last question, but it was crucial to my decision as a young woman. I wanted to find a career where my thoughts and opinions mattered as much as my male coworkers’ and where I wouldn’t be overlooked for wearing eyeliner.
This is a hard thing to judge beyond personal anecdotes of those working in the field. But one concrete way to measure how women are valued compared to their male counterparts is by looking at salary data. The following timeline of data visualizations examines how the gender pay gap might affect me – or any other woman in a variety of careers – over the course of a lifetime.
Click through the following visualizations to watch how a gap in pay can add up.
This report is based on data from the 2019 US Census, measured in dollars per year. The Census estimates the median annual salary for each job. This report takes the average across those median annual salaries to give an estimate for each occupational category. The data here are provided as an example of gender inequity trends and aren't intended to replace other demographic data provided by the Census.
Choosing a Path — Here’s a chart that I wish I had made back in high school to help me decide what I wanted to be. Here we can see six different fields and their average income for male and female employees. These specifically happen to be the six fields with the worst pay gap between the sexes.
This is when some people may react with “Oh just follow your heart” or “Oh just do something you’ll enjoy” when talking about future pay. That response feels dismissive to the weight of how much this choice will affect your life. And not just between the hours of 9 and 5.
I encourage you to look at your own field and reflect on how the gender pay gap affects you - today and in the future. We've made excellent progress in recent years, but there is more to be done. Women make up half of the workforce, and in time, they should make up half of the pay as well.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Miranda is an intern in Health and Life Sciences at SAS. She is currently attending North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where she is working toward a bachelors degree in statistics.
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