Female breadwinning likeliest among women under 24


With a record number of women and ethnic minority MP’s now in power, we’re waiting to see how far up pay equity is on the new political agenda. Research shows equal pay for the next generation, particularly the growing number of young women who are already the main earners, is more vital than ever. Certainly the recent budget cuts to child credits won’t help.
A recent UK survey, by insurers LV, of more than 2,000 people shows that 1 in 4 young women (under 24) out-earn their male partners. The study also found that of all age groups, 1 in 5 women is now the family breadwinner. But this isn’t a sign of gender equality, because female earnings: “begin to dip after the age of 30 – the average age at which a woman gives birth and starts to bring up young families, while men earn more after the age of 40,” explains Steve Doughty in the DailyMail.

Interestingly, the survey suggests the sexes handle the responsibility differently: 43% of women and just 34% of men were stressed by being the main earner. The reason for the difference is probably twofold: men are more likely to have been raised with the expectation they’d ‘bring home the bacon’; doing so feels like a ‘natural’ responsibility and their ‘manly’ duty. Secondly in our experience, women, particularly high achievers, plan ahead. They may be envisioning a future where the arrival of their own children means they will take a step back; difficult if the money is made by mum, not dad. Plus the flattening of wages and the rise of in-work poverty means it takes two incomes to survive for any family – no doubt adding to her stress.

According to MomsRising.org, the wage gap is wider between mothers and non-mothers than between women and men in the US – a trend we discuss in the next piece. Women without children earn 10% less than men, while mothers earn a staggering 27% less than men. The gap is even wider for lesbians and women of colour. All of this has serious implications for families who rely on a woman’s income, which is most families. To create a more just society, fixing the pay gap is the only way to will ensure all workers, male and female, can support themselves and their loved ones.

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