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On International Women's Day 2018, how are we doing when it comes to earning equality?

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio
Women working full time in Missouri and Illinois make about 70 percent of what men earn for similar jobs. (Source: AAUW)

It's a startling number to consider, especially on International Women's Day, March 8.

According to the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Reportgender parity is over 200 years away. The report benchmarks 144 countries on their progress toward gender parity through four themes, including economic participation and opportunity.

When it comes earning a living, a young woman in the United States who is trying to decide on a lucrative career may do well to consider becoming a pharmacist or entering the field of software and applications development, both fields dominated by men. 

The International Women's Day 2018 campaign theme is #PressforProgress, including a call to "to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive."

Earning power  

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a woman can earn an average of around $150,000 a year as a pharmacist; she can earn an average about $90,000 by creating software and apps. The census number crunchers looked at median earnings of full-time, year-round workers in the past 12 months by gender and occupation.

Pay gap: Missouri and Illinois

Women working full time in the United States earn just 80 percent of what men earn for comparable work, according to American Association of University Women (AAUW), which tracks the pay gap between genders.

U.S. Census Bureau data shows there is an even wider pay gap between men and women in Missouri and Illinois. (The latest statistics are from 2016).

  • Missouri: The median income for women is about $28,000. For men, it's about $40,000. That means women make about 70 percent of what men earn in similar jobs.
  • Illinois: The median income for women is about $31,000. For men, it's about $45,000. That means women make about 69 percent of what men earn in similar jobs. 

More men, more money

As the U.S. Census Bureau data also show, fields dominated by women tend to be less lucrative than those where men have the most jobs. For example, in high tech, where men make up about 80 percent of the workforce, average salaries are in the six figures for men and women. 

Meanwhile, women dominate the field of nursing, where the average salary for a registered nurse is around $70,000. By the way, male RNs earn more on average than their female counterparts.

In Illinois, the highest-paying careers for women include law enforcement, medicine, computer science and business. In Missouri, these include medicine, scientific research, architecture and engineering. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau).

Related: International Women's Day activities and resources

Follow Holly Edgell on Twitter @hollyedgell

Holly Edgell is the managing editor of the Midwest Newsroom, a public radio collaboration among NPR member stations in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska.