Survey finds women reach their earnings peak 11 years before men but make $35,000 less
© Thinkstock

Women reach their professional earning peak 11 years before men, but they make nearly $35,000 less at that point, according to a new report.

The report, released last week by salary site PayScale, found that the average American woman sees her earnings peak when she is 44 years old with an average salary of $66,700. Men, comparatively, reach their peak at 55 years old with an average salary of $101,200.  

ADVERTISEMENT

The legal occupation has the widest gender pay gap. Women in legal careers reach their average peak wage of $75,000 at age 35, according to the report, while men reach their peak wage of $168,800 at age 56. That represents a 265 percent difference in earnings growth between men and women.

The health care field had the second largest wage gap, with an 85 percent difference in earnings growth, while sales holds a 76 percent difference.

The report cites a number of factors that contribute to gender and racial pay gaps. Women of all races and men of color are “less represented at higher levels of organizations than white men,” for example, and “they benefit less frequently from employee referrals, which help applicants get a foot in the door.” The report also cites issues ranging from from women and people of color being less likely to get raises when they ask for them and when people decide to have children.

“Our insights on when wages peak for men and women, broken down by occupation and racial/ethnic group, highlights how complex the gender pay gap is,” the report said. “Unless policies are designed with all people in mind, pay gaps will not only persist, but can actually worsen,” it added.

The wage gaps also differ greatly by race. Black men and women have the lowest peak wages, according to the report. Black men’s peak wage is $80,000 at age 59 and black women’s peak wage is $61,100 at age 52.

Asian Americans received the highest salaries of any racial group, with Asian men reaching their peak salary of $132,100 at age 52 and Asian women reaching their peak salary of $95,600 at age 57.

The data is based on over 1.4 million survey respondents with at least a bachelor's degree who shared salary information between 2016 and 2019.