The wage gap is alive and well, as you probably know, with women typically earning about 80 cents to every dollar that men do. (The shortfall is even steeper for women of color.) What’s more, the World Economic Forum forecasts that it will take 217 years to truly reach pay parity.
If that isn’t enough to get you in a twist, here’s a weird wrinkle to the story, recently reported by the U.S. Census Bureau: It seems that women who make more than their husbands (which was the case in almost a quarter of couples surveyed), usually report taking home less than they actually do. Meanwhile, the males say they make more money than they do. Researchers determined this fact by comparing self-reported census salary data to actual IRS earnings reported by employers—and the latter doesn’t lie.
But Why Lie?
Granted, the margins of false reporting aren’t huge—women under-report by 1.5 percent, men over-report by 2.9 percent, but still! It reveals that it’s challenging for many of us to move away from those old beliefs that men must be the breadwinner in a family. One way to help this belief disappear: Open discussions of couples in which the wife earns more than the husband, and representation in the media. Normalizing this increasingly common situation is a big step in the right direction and will hopefully help women who make more than their husbands feel proud of their earnings.