What The Wage Gap Costs You — In 3 Startling Charts

Tuesday, April 14, is Equal Pay Day — a day set aside to raise awareness about the pay gap between men's and women's salaries. According to current estimates, it's at $.78, meaning women working full-time earn, on average, 22 cents less for every dollar that men earn.

To help conceptualize just how bad the pay gap is, we teamed up with The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a D.C.-based nonprofit that studies women and work. The folks there provided us with the following research — about how much money unequal pay is costing you over the course of your career.

We broke it down into three enraging charts. 

#1: Your Cumulative Career Losses
Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
The stats above look at women of all races and education levels. Let's say you started working at age 25; if you're 29, you've already lost $18,245 since you started working. And, it just keeps getting worse: By 34, it's up to more than $50K. For women who are currently 59, it's half  a million dollars. 

For college-educated women, who typically earn more, the losses are even bigger. Today, a woman with a college degree who's been working for 35 years has lost $797,238 over the course of her career to unequal pay. 

#2 How Much Is That Really? 
Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
A lot. For the average 29-year-old (again, assuming she's been working for five years), that's a loss of more than $3,000 every year — or nearly two bucks an hour.

#3 What Could You Do With All That Money?
Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
You could do a lot with all that money. Like go to Paris twice a year, or get a free coffee and a free sandwich, every day, Monday through Friday, for your life. Or, you could wait until you retired and use your half-mil to buy a lovely house on the beach. 

So, yes. The pay gap is real, and it does real, long-term damage to the economic well-being of women. What to do about it is a bit trickier, but you can start by knowing your own worth, asking for a raise if you come to realize you're underpaid (here are some tips), and voting for politicians who support equal pay legislation.

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