Handbook on Well-Being of Working Women

Part of the series International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life pp 141-157

The Gender Pay Gap and the Wellbeing of Working Women

  • Hilary M. LipsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Radford University Email author 

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The gender pay gap is a persistent and worldwide problem, appearing in the United States within groups categorized by age, race/ethnicity, education, industry, and occupation. It is particularly evident among parents caring for children: motherhood is consistently associated with reduced earning power, whereas fatherhood is not. Women’s subjective wellbeing is affected by the pay gap when they become aware of the gap and see it as unfair. However, a tendency for both women and men to accept system-justifying beliefs may often allow individuals to rationalize discrepancies between women’s and men’s pay. Women’s objective wellbeing is clearly damaged by the gender pay gap, in terms of economic security, economic vulnerability in older age, health, and job stability. Since the pay gap often sets the stage for women temporarily or permanently leaving the workforce, it results in significant loss of women’s contributions.


Discrimination Working women Motherhood Salaries Perceived equity