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The Wage Gap Is Closing, But Millennial Women Still Feel Its Effects

Millennial women earn nearly equal amounts as men in the same age bracket, according to a report from the Pew Research Center. Why, then, do they still feel the psychological impact of the disparity?

millennial 

(Photo Credit: Travis Isaacs/Flickr)

"Women ages 18 to 32 are a few slim percentage points away from wage parity," write Katy Waldman at Slate. "Those advances have yet to register psychologically, though. Women still perceive an uphill climb ahead of them, in part due to the unequal 'responsibilities of parenthood and family.' All three generations of women surveyed -- millennial, Gen X and Boomer -- 'view this as a man's world.'"

While younger female workers were most likely to earn similar salaries as men, they were also less likely to have children than their older counterparts. In other words, although younger women are better educated (38 percent had bachelor's degrees, as opposed to 31 percent of men) and only 15 percent of Millennial women say they've been discriminated against in their careers, they're still anticipating a motherhood penalty later in life.

They're not crazy to feel that way. PayScale's Women at Work data package found that much of the disparity between male and female earnings can be put down to different occupational choices. Women are more likely to work at jobs that give back to society, rather than earning them a fat paycheck.

"Instead of focusing the debate on the misbegotten gender wage gap, we should instead examine why women are absent from high-paying jobs and industries, like technology, engineering, and executive positions," writes Katie Bardaro, lead economist for PayScale.

Is it altruism, or the fact that technology, engineering, and executive positions require the kind of "leaning in" that's only available to the Sheryl Sandbergs of the world?

Bottom line: until the U.S. offers parental leave policies that don't force women to make tough decisions about their families and careers, we can probably expect young women to continue to feel that this is a man's world.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you still feel the effects of the gender wage gap? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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