I wrote a story this week for Today.com on how the pay gap between men and women widens as we age, and I was struck by something an economist that was part of the study told me during an interview:

“Men are selecting to go into higher paying jobs,” said Katie Bardaro, lead economist for PayScale. Women, she said, tend to gravitate to jobs in human resources and nursing, while men go for the big bucks in finance and technology.

Why should these jobs pay more, I asked her.

“A lot of people complain, that if these were male-dominated jobs, they’d be paid more,” she explained, but “I can’t put a lot of basis in that argument.” She pointed to the fact that many jobs men go into are dangerous, requiring a pay premium as a result.

I wouldn’t say being a banker is dangerous, and she agreed. But, she noted, that more men tend to become construction managers.
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In the end what we have is nearly half of society not making as much as the other half of society, and the problem only gets worse as we grow older. And I don’t know about you, something’s got to give.

Did you know women are more likely to be poor as they age?

“When you look at people 65 and older, women are nearly twice as likely to be poor and to be near poor,” said Catherine Hill, research director of the American Association of University Women. “That’s not expected to change much,” she said, and it’s typically worse for women who are divorced or never were married.”

What we do now to deal with the discrepancy in pay for so-called safe women’s work will some day help some women stay out of poverty.

Today, the Senate will vote on Paycheck Fairness Act, which failed to pass in 2010 and was put to a vote on Thursday in the House and legislators decided not to consider the act. The act would boost remedies for victims of pay bias and also mandate that employers justify pay differences, but many believe it doesn’t have a chance of passing.

There will actually be a bunch of politicians who will vote against the legislation, many of which have wives, daughters and sisters.

Since they don’t care, maybe we should remember their votes when they’re up for reelection. If women won’t fight for women’s rights, who will?

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