As Cost of Living Continues to Surge, Women Suffer Most

Inflation is problematic for everyone. The cost of living continues to rise far faster than wages. Rental and food prices continue to soar, and far too many people are struggling to keep up.

The struggles have been particularly challenging for women, who already earn less than their male peers and have to rely on additional sources of income to get by at nearly twice the rate of men.

Women Report More Financial Difficulties Then Men

A recent study by global recruiter Robert Walters found massive disparities in how the crisis affects men versus women.

The findings show that women are underpaid while receiving fewer perks, such as raises, bonuses, and additional financial incentives. Only 39% of women earn more than $55K annually, compared to 67% of men. Women notice the disparity, with 40% saying they feel underpaid, compared to just 24% of men.

Although both genders face stagnant wages, men are more likely to get a pay bump than women, with 85% of men getting at least a little raise in the past 12 months compared to 76% of women. Even the raises are smaller, with only 9% receiving enough to match inflation compared to 19% of men.

The Gap Widens When You Consider Benefits

The wage gap doesn’t’ tell the whole story. Women are less likely to receive other financial incentives as well.

Although the benefits picture is bleak for both genders, it’s slightly worse for women. Men are more likely to have access to a 401K at work (25% vs. 19%) and receive bonuses (19% vs. 11%), company equity (12% vs. 6%), or mortgage allowances (11% vs 6%).

Men score bigger bonuses as well, with 65% getting the bonuses they felt they deserved. Only 48% of women reported that their bonus met expectations.

 Women Struggle To Make Ends Meet

The disparity in wages forces many women to seek additional sources of income. Their wages are no longer enough to survive, and they must make ends meet. 

Only 25% said they can live comfortably on their incomes, and 10% rely on a second job or income source to make ends meet.

Women Face Even More Challenges in Retirement 

Because women make less money throughout their lives and live longer than their male counterparts, they’re especially vulnerable in retirement.

Women’s median 401K balance is 65% lower than men’s, earning nearly $4000 less in social security per year than men. Because women tend to live longer, those smaller savings need to stretch even further.

Multi-Faceted Problem

Addressing such a nuanced problem presents a massive challenge. While gender discrimination certainly plays a role, cultural standards contribute to the discrepancy.

Disparities in childcare are among the most significant contributors to the gender wage gap. Women are more likely to choose flexibility over income when they have children. They’re more likely to quit their jobs and become stay-at-home moms.

When couples split, women are more likely to bear the burden of childcare, limiting their employment options.

Society also assigns different values for work performed by different genders. Traditionally, “male” work pays more than “female” work. Studies have shown that industry pay scales decrease as more women enter. When nursing was a male job, it was valued more. Now that women typically enter the field, it’s been devalued. The same holds true for teachers, ticket-takers, and designers. When women enter an occupation, society devalues it.

How To Address It 

Complex problems aren’t easy to resolve, but we’re doing half the population a massive disservice by refusing to acknowledge it.

Universal childcare programs would be a massive step forward, but they wouldn’t change society’s attitude toward women. To do that, we need to do the hard work of confronting our bias and understanding why we don’t think women deserve equal pay for equal work.