Video: 5 Jobs With Alarming Gender Pay Disparity

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably aware that women continue to face gender pay gaps across most industries. You still might be surprised to learn that men make higher average salaries in fields where women fill the vast majority of roles — even male lactation consultants outearn their female counterparts! Meg Embry walks you through.
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Meg Embry
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Meg Embry is a writer at BestColleges covering all things career and education related. An award-winning journalist and editor, she has lived and worked in Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States....
Published on January 31, 2024
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Video Transcript

Meg Embry, Writer, BestColleges: Here at BestColleges, we talk about the gender pay gap a lot. One of my colleagues [Evan Thompson], who's this super-kind, 20-something-year-old guy, just did a bunch of research on woman-dominated careers where men outearn women.

If you're a woman who's ever had a job, it probably comes as no surprise to you that men often pull higher salaries than us, even in fields where we reign supreme. But Evan was traumatized — bless his heart — to discover that male lactation consultants, for example, make more money than female lactation consultants, which is crazy.

Stick around and I'll tell you about five other careers where women are doing most of the work and men are making most of the money.

5 Women Led Careers That Still Pay Men More

1. Dental Hygienist

First on our list: dental hygienists. 93% of them are women. This is a job that often only requires an associate's degree, and you can make six figures doing it. The median salary for a woman is nearly $115,000, which is pretty good money. But the median salary for a man is over $120,000. It comes out to a difference of, like, $5,500 a year.

Dental hygienists: imagine what you could do with an extra $5,500 a year. After only one year of pay parity, you could buy yourself a brand new electric toothbrush every single month for the next 18 years of your life.

2. Speech Language Pathologist

Next up: speech language pathologists. More than 90% of them are women. But they only earn 94 cents for every dollar that a man earns. Six cents doesn't sound like a very big deal until you realize it adds up to a difference of roughly $250,000 in lifetime earnings. $250,000 — that's two six-bedroom houses in Mississippi. That's a whole medieval watch tower in southeast France.

3. Optician

Opticians are next on our list, and this is where you're gonna start seeing an even bigger gap in pay. About 78% of opticians are women, but men make about 12% more per year. How big is that difference? Think of it like this: the average woman optician would have to work an additional month every year just to make up the difference.

4. Pediatrician

In the number four spot we have pediatricians. As of 2019, 6 in 10 pediatricians were women, and 7 out of 10 graduating pediatrics residents were also women. As a quick side note, you should know that in 2016, Harvard researchers published a study showing that female physicians get consistently better patient results than male physicians — so much better in fact that if male doctors could get the same outcomes, it would save approximately 32,000 lives every year.

Even so, medical men far outearned medical women, pretty much across the board. And in pediatrics, the men take home about $51,000 more per year than the women. $51,000 — that's enough for a whole Model 3 Tesla every year, just for being a guy, and doing a worse job. You don't have to have a doctorate to know that that's messed up.

5. Nutritionist

But the award for the most disappointing pay gap percentage goes to the nutritionists. Fewer than 20% of nutritionists are men, but they still earn about 20% more than women in the field. Guys, can you imagine discovering that your colleague at work who has the same education as you, works the same hours as you, does the same job as you gets paid 20% more than you for no discernible reason?

For nutritionists, that gap comes out to about $10,000 a year. Think about it: you could buy 10,000 things at the dollar store with that kind of money. Whoever said money doesn't buy happiness was probably a male pediatrician.

Why the Pay Gap Matters

But let's be serious for a second about why this pay gap business really matters. Between the ages of 25 and 34, American women are 69% more likely to live in poverty than men of the same age. Black women and other women of color face even wider pay gaps than white women. Almost a quarter of America's single mothers live in poverty, and in our old age, women will have far less social security and retirement savings to live off of.

But it's important to note that closing the pay gap will help more than just women. According to Yale economist Duncan Thomas, income in the hands of a mother increases family health and nutrition by four to seven times more than the income of fathers. Women tend to invest their incomes back into the people that they care about. As a result, when women have resources, it generates long-term social and economic benefits: for them, their kids, the communities, and the world as a whole. All that to say if we would just pay women what they're worth, literally everyone would be better off.

If you want to learn more about the gender pay gap, check out the BestColleges articles I've linked in the [YouTube video] description. And if you liked this video, make sure to give it a thumbs up, subscribe, and turn on your notifications so you can hear more from us.