As of today — which is Equal Pay Day 2012 — women make 77 cents for every dollar that men earn. Over the course of a woman’s career, that disparity adds up to more than $430,000 in lost wages for an individual woman. As Center for American Progress economic analyst Matt Separa noted, the pay gap means that women fall behind economically in a number of ways:
Because of this gap women working full time are able to afford less education, housing, transportation, food, and health care for themselves and their families than their male counterparts. As a result women and female-headed households are more likely to be in poverty and less likely to have health insurance. The pay gap translates into a significant economic disadvantage for women and their families, especially when nearly two-thirds (63.9 percent) of women are now either the primary breadwinner or a co-breadwinner, bringing home at least 25 percent of their family’s income.
With the money lost over her lifetime, a woman could feed a family of four for 37 years, pay for seven four-year degrees at a public university, or simply save the money for retirement, boosting her quality of life when she leaves the workforce:
For some women, of course, the pay gap is even worse. According to a report from the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Latina women face a pay gap of 40 percent.