How The FIRE Movement Will Narrow The Gender Pay Gap

It hit me like a well-struck softball taking an odd bounce into a third baseman's face. The FIRE movement will help narrow the gender pay gap over time.

Let me explain my logic on why ardent supporters of equality should embrace the FIRE movement to the fullest. I've been writing about FIRE since 2009, when Financial Samurai first started. As a pioneer of the modern day FIRE movement, we could be on to something new and great!

Why The FIRE Movement Will Create Income Equality For Women

When I removed myself from full-time work in 2012, my active income pay went from a $250,000 base salary to $0. I was a diligent worker who would readily work 60-70 hours a week to make more money. You did not want me as a competitor because I would consistently out-hustle my peers.

With one less male in the office, the income balance shifted slightly to female earners.

If my firm had filled my vacated position with a female worker, then the income balance would have tilted even more towards women in my office.

Alas, my firm didn't replace me with a female worker. Instead, it eliminated my position and made my junior male colleague do more of the heavy lifting, just as I had suggested during my severance package negotiation.

But despite not replacing me with a female worker, the gender pay imbalance still lessened with me out of the equation. My junior male colleague was forced to do more work for less commensurate pay.

Now this may sound bad for my junior male colleague in the short-run. But in the long-run, me leaving provided him a fantastic opportunity to accelerate his career.

A Good Example

Take me as a typical example of the FIRE movement – a highly motivated male leaving full-time work during his rising income years. Multiply my example by the thousands, then perhaps millions and eventually, you get to female gender pay equality or even dominance!

When 53% of the workforce is made up of men, even if the percentage of men and women seek FIRE was the same, there would be more men on an absolute basis exiting the workforce than women. If the gender wage gap is true, this is a good thing.

How The FIRE Movement Will Narrow The Gender Pay Gap

Family Dynamics May Change For The Better Too

As more men FIRE to earn little-to-no money for the life of leisure, even more responsible men will FIRE to become stay-at-home dads.

Being a stay-at-home parent is one of the most important jobs in the world. But being a stay-at-home parent has so far been dominated by mothers.

Stay at home parents: How FIRE narrows the gender wage gap

As a result, women are the ones who've taken the biggest income and career hits because they've exchanged time in the workforce for the care of their children.

Biologically, this may make sense due to a woman's ability to breastfeed. But from a financial and career perspective, this seems unfair, especially to single mothers who are forced to juggle everything.

Further, the pandemic has caused roughly 3 million women, many of whom are working mothers, to leave the workforce. The imbalance of childcare duties has been a tremendous problem.

The Parent Penalty

When my friend Kathy attempted to rejoin the workforce after eight years of being a stay at home mom, she could only find jobs paying her 65% of what she used to get.

Clearly, her situation is a hit to gender pay equality.

If stay-at-home dads decide to reenter the workforce years later, they too will face similar hits to income as their industries will have moved on without them. Due to globalization and technology, competition has only intensified over the years.

Not only will more stay-at-home dads narrow the gender pay gap, studies have shown there are plenty of other benefits of having fathers more present in their children's lives.

Below are some of those benefits for children just having a father. Now imagine the benefits for children if fathers were also predominantly at home.

Stay-at-home dads could lead to better adjusted children, which in turn could result in a better functioning society down the road.

Benefits to children of having a stay-at-home dad

One Last Proactive Step To Take

Millions of men truncating their careers and their earnings to be free are important parts of the solution to narrowing the gender pay gap.

But there is still another integral part to the solution.

It is this: Men must also be the champions of women. Men must encourage women to work at higher paying jobs in higher paying industries. Men must encourage their partners to fight for pay increases and promotions. In addition, men must also be supportive of women going back to work after having children.

Percentage of women's representation in selected occupations - Gender Pay Gap

Taking time away from work, often uncompensated, to care for children is one of the biggest determinants of an employee's total income. To overcome this shortfall, fathers must step up to their fatherly duties.

This means more cooking, more cleaning, more playing, more diaper changing, more putting kids to bed, being responsible for making doctors appointments and playdates, and much more.

By doing so, mothers will be able to rest easier knowing their childcare concerns are being addressed. They can then focus on grinding at work to climb up the corporate ladder and make more money.

Feeling Less Guilt To Focus On A Career

As soon as I knew my husband was competent at changing diapers, bottle feeding, and performing the Heimlich maneuver, I felt better going back to work,” wrote Nancy, a Financial Samurai forum reader.

Having a stay-at-home father also helps ameliorate the guilt many mothers feel when deciding whether to go back to work.

I could not get over my guilt of leaving my precious baby in the hands of a stranger, no matter how caring or experienced that stranger seemed. When my husband decided to put his career on pause for one year so I could pursue my career, my guilt declined drastically. I trust my husband more than anybody in the world,” said one mother I spoke to at the playground.

The decision between career or family has always gnawed at parents. But having a partner you trust and care for the most take care of your little one helps.

Gender Pay Gap By Country

The FIRE Moment Will Help Achieve Pay Equality

The combination of more men leaving the workforce early and more mothers going back to work will ultimately make income equality a reality. In my opinion, once the ratio of stay-at-home-moms to stay-at-home-dads equals 50:50, we will have 100% gender pay parity.

Once the ratio is 50:50, there will be less inherent discrimination by employers towards women because they will now factor in that both men and women have an equal chance of leaving the work force to take care of children.

Without the FIRE movement, the lines from the chart above will intersect in about the year 2070 according to the long-term trend. With the FIRE movement, I can see gender pay parity by the year 2040 if not sooner.

Let's encourage more men to retire early and more women to have longer and more lucrative careers. Together, we can make gender equality a reality in our lifetimes!

Related posts:

The Not So Obvious Reasons Why People Want To Achieve Financial Independence

The Three Levels Of Financial Independence

FIRE Confessionals

Readers, what do you think about the FIRE movement helping narrow the gender wage gap? What are some other big structural changes that can help narrow the gender wage gap? What are some of the other reasons why the gender wage gap exists? If you do not believe the gender wage gap exists, please explain why.

78 thoughts on “How The FIRE Movement Will Narrow The Gender Pay Gap”

  1. The “Gender Pay Gap” is essentially non existent and for younger unmarried women vs men, women have a slight edge in earnings over the men (Up to a certain age). This is merely a religious doctrine created by the Feminists and Leftists religion. Maybe you atoned for your sins by writing this blog, but more than likely you just invited the religious nutjobs to come in and critique your theories on how to improve their situation. It’s a religious doctrine guy, it’s not meant to be “fixed”, or “solved” it’s meant to be used as an indoctrination tool and a hammer for the adherents

  2. What?! I don’t usually get offended by blog posts, but um, is there a reason you seem to assume that only or primarily men are seeking or likely to execute FIRE? Further, I’m not sure what would lead you to assume that the jobs and income left available by all the rich early retiring menfolk will somehow be redirected to women in their absence.

    1. Let’s say the ratio is 50-50, men-women seeking FIRE. Then the absolute amount of people who will be seeking fire will be men because men are a majority in the workforce.

      To understand the second point, it’s good to think in extremes. Let’s say 99% of men left the workforce because of fire. Then by default, women would get to take over all those jobs men left.

      Are you really offended by this post? If so, what are the reasons given the statistics are what they are.

    2. I actually think part of the reason why there is a gender wage gap is because more women want to FIRE versus men. It makes sense that more women would want to retire earlier and have a man provide the income so she can live more leisurely or do the important task of raising a family.

      Therefore, what I read from this post is that the FIRE movement should hopefully encourage more men to leave work sooner and faster than the rate of women leaving work. In this way, the gender wage gap narrows.

  3. The issue is production and profit, from which wages are derived.

    Less production and or less profit equates to lower wages. No profit equates to no job.

    It’s all about the producers and creators. Without one of those individuals, there are also no jobs .

    Why the emphasis on jobs? Jobs are a derivative, not a primary.

    How about discussing the producer or creator gap? Think about what regulation, such as minimum wage or wage gap, does to the producer or creator.

    Especially is such a highly regulated state that hates individualism as California.

  4. Another anecdotal example of how gender pay gaps perpetuate.
    My wife is a Physician Assistant who over 15 years ago was generating six figures in compensation. Once we had kids, we agreed it was best to have her work part-time and have me keep my full-time job since the opposite was not realistic. So her part-time job in a lower paying specialty area caused her pay to drop. When the kids started school, she went back full-time in a high paying sub-specialty area and started generating higher pay and was competitive with lots of men that were interested in maximizing pay since they were sole providers and needed/wanted to maximize their pay. The extra workload put a strain on the family since we were both putting in long hours. So by mutual agreement, she stepped back to a lower stress specialty area with flexible hours but lower pay.

    Did she suffer from lower pay for equal work throughout the years? Maybe a little (we don’t know how much her colleagues were getting paid but my research showed she was getting paid competitive). BUT the dominant reason her pay is less now is by MUTUAL CHOICE. She chose the less stressful position with flexible hours and was willing to devote more of her time to raising the family. This works for us and also aligns with the stats that for the same years of experience in the same occupation, she very likely makes less than her male counterparts with the same number of years experience and same title.

  5. I’m not sure if many women will go for this, encouraging/forcing them to go back to work or work in lucrative fields they don’t want to be in to work 70+ hours a week.

    I know I wouldn’t. I’m happy doing some PT work and taking care of my kids.

    Most of my mom friends are too.

    1. If we are to narrow the gender pay gap, both sides must be aligned.

      It is naturally to want something but then not want to work for it. I guess it all depends on how much we want something.

      I feel good doing my part to remove myself from the Matrix. If more women want to work in higher paying fields and climb the corporate ladder, I’m all for it.

  6. I do not think that children will be better off if they have stay at home dads versus stay at home moms. Perhaps I am misreading your comment and graphic, but it looks like you are trying to say that stay at home dads can have those positive effects. I believe that data is comparing children who live without a father in the home with those who do. When I’ve seen those stats, I have seen it described that way. Anecdotally, I have seen that as well. If I am mistaken, then so much the better. In my few years as a father, it’s clear to me that parents need to come in pairs so that one can have a break periodically. If nothing else, that is valuable. Further, though, I do see general differences, in how men and women treat their children. Generally speaking, I find the two tendencies to be complementary, and I suspect that makes it easier to raise well rounded children.

    1. Many hard-charging working dads in their 30s and 40s I know say the same thing. But then they also tell me they don’t want to be stay at home dads and would rather have their wives take care of their kids. That doesn’t help gender pay equality.

      Removing these type of gung-ho dads from the workplace will help.

      How about you? Are you a working dad or a SAHD? Would you want to be a SAHD?


  7. There should be no impetus to decrease a “pay gap” unless men and women are being paid differently while putting in the same work/hours for doing the same job. It turns out that pay is commensurate to the type of work and hours put in. There is no problem to “correct” or make “equal”. It would be like saying medical doctors should have equal pay to janitors. There is no reason to make that argument, and society would be worse of for it.

  8. Great post! I agree with your wife, as I’m getting ready to have baby #2 in 10 short weeks it is NOT fun working for someone else.

    I just want to spend time with my soon-to-be 3 year old, even though he’s at a top Montessori school during the day.

    The majority of corporate meetings I’m in I could care less about, but I’m building up my FI cushion, so I push on each day. :) Plus balancing Dr. appointments and schedules with my corporate job is like juggling fire.

    As a women working in finance, having 10 guys comment on your growing/staring at your belly when you just want to lay down is NOT fun, but I tell myself “this too shall pass.”

    No Bill, I don’t want to go another client happy hour, I want to put my aching feet up and see my kid tonight.

    Tell your wife she is definitely not in the minority when she doesn’t want to go back to work for someone else. She should keep her freedom!

    FI moms unite!

    1. Gennadiy from Belarus

      Gender pay inequality is new concept to me -so I did some research.
      Basically- woman does housework: cleaning – cooking- childbearing-10-15times> men controls the world through muscle power .She has now time for a work outside her home.
      When capitalism came:still men controls the world through fiscal power. Men business- owners did not wanted to pay his worker wife and doters more than to buy some needles. Women were slaves before , women stay slaves now.
      Today to pay woman less much easier. Oversupply of qualified candidates-women for any position.
      HR has a salary range. And men also know about it. HR and 5 contenders start poker game.
      I have a coworker who was 4-th in line of succession. 3 did not accepted the offer. She did. Looks like she is happy.

      What was good for women in USSR -2 month paid maternity leave before the childbirth.
      What was bad in USSR – 2 month paid maternity leave after the childbirth and then she has to go to work for the state enterprise 40h/week. For those who did not want to work – prison farm.

      I was adorable 2 month baby and my dad took me to a child care at 7:00 and mom pick me up at 15:00.(my mum was just lucky to get a place for me.)
      My big sister stayed in childcare much longer. FOR 6 MONTH From early Monday until late Friday. 24 h.
      My mom made tonnes of money. 4 chickens a day. She was a pediatrician. So, she was given night shifts also at the hospital .4 chickens per night . Her pay was EQUAL to a men’s pay in Hospitals. After 20 years-5 chickens a day(rent and utility-5 chickens/month)
      It changed in 1972.From Now on moms can stay at home till 12 month with no pay.
      1976.-moms can stay at home till 18 month with no pay.
      1 income was tough.
      Schools-the same. Not every school had a male as a principal. It became a shame for men to go in teaching profession, because of income.

      In USSR I got used to such things: no pregnant women for a night shift, no women as pilot, truck or bus drivers, rail transit etc., Tram and trolley-are OK. But pay will be 80-60 % lower for everybody compare to city bus driver. In my hometown. trolleybus drivers are 50-50. Tram( that thing in SF on rails) – 0-100.
      Coal mines. Office workers and Accounting -women with low pay. Miners-200-500%( All the profits and amortization/depreciation go to the General fond) Seal mills -the same.
      Manufacturing plants had production quotas(plan) and pay was not by the hour but product qty. with equal pay.
      Power plant: Office workers and accounting -women with low pay. Everything else with bigger pay- are men. Plant Manager- men. His basic pay was about 200% any other.( All the profits and amortization/depreciation go to the General fond)
      Cotton mill- accounting -women with a low pay. Heavy lifting with bigger pay(250-300%)- are women. Logistics Men. Much less muscle work, but still 250-300%. Mill Manager- woman or man.-400-500%( All the profits and amortization/depreciation go to the General fond).

  9. Paper Tiger

    I certainly don’t have all the answers to this debate. All I can offer are my own experiences around the choices my wife and I made regarding our careers and raising our daughter. I think the word “choice” is the real key. There are plenty of opportunities for equal pay and managing joint careers and family obligations if you make choices that facilitate these decisions.

    My wife and I have been married 26 years and both worked several years for the same Fortune 500 company in sales and marketing in the medical device industry. The jobs we both posted for throughout our careers had the same salary bands and variable compensation programs offered to the person doing the job, be it a man or a woman. When our daughter was born, my wife took her company paid maternity leave and then returned to work. We shared the responsibility for raising our daughter supplemented by company daycare and a wonderful Boys & Girls Club, all while both managing full-time, very demanding careers.

    Our daughter grew up independent and very balanced, both intellectually and emotionally. She has a servant’s heart and is studying to be a Pediatric Nurse at a top NE Public University. She has traveled extensively in her young life and is fluent in Spanish as her second language.

    Both my wife and I have excelled in our careers. I am now semi-retired and my wife continues to flourish in her career and most recently was promoted to a VP role. This has changed the dynamic around managing our responsibilities as I now try and focus on all the things that are related to our household, expenses, investments and our daughter so that my wife can fully focus on her career and “bringing home more of the bacon.”

    My point in all of this is that equality in a marriage, in a job and in pay can be managed with the right amount of perspective, good decision-making, and teamwork with your spouse. Life is largely what YOU make it and your willingness to do what is necessary to be successful. We can blame others and our circumstances all we want but the reality is, if you don’t like the way things are going, stop doing the same things and start taking control of your own destiny.

    As they say, “become a victor and not a victim.”

  10. Tired Old Man

    As a man, I’m definitely for more mothers going back to work quicker to make more money and provide for the family.

    I’m 46 years old and exhausted from working for the past 24 years. I could use a break. My wife has been a SAHM for 12 years and we have two children ages 9 – 12.

    Flipping the roles would be nice, but I don’t know how much my wife can make now that’s she’s been out of the workforce for so long (your point).

    So tired.

  11. Minimal Millionaire Mom

    Wow, as a stay-at-home mom who discovered FIRE and figured out how to implement it in order for my husband to be able to retire in the next 5 years, I find some of your statements and assumptions a bit odd.

    1) Why would you assume that only men strive for FIRE?
    2) Why would you assume “family dynamics will change for the better too”, if there are more stay-at-home dads? I am all for stay-at-home parents period. In my opinion, the choice who stays at home should be more about who has more patience/demeanor, who wants to stay at home and who has the skill set to do the job.
    3)I really don’t see the evidence or correlation between a father being in the home and these statements – “stay-at-home dads could lead to better adjusted children” and “imagine the benefits for the children.” I’m not saying it’s not possible, but again I think it’s not about gender, it’s about who is a good fit to stay at home.

    1. How does your discovery of FIRE help your husband be able to retire in the next 5 years? Why couldn’t he understand himself and what is your current situation? Do you have kids? Are you a SAHM?

      Why are you assuming only men strive for FIRE? Doesn’t say that in the post. Men make up 53% of the labor force ( Even if the equal percent amount of men and women pursue FIRE, then there is a largely absolutely amount of men who will exit the workforce. But if you look at the number of stories about FIRE and the number of FIRE blogs, the number is at least 2:1 men:women.

      If the gender wage gap is real, why wouldn’t you think having more men exit the workforce and having more women work longer to get paid more help? That makes total sense.

      Not having a SAHD or a father might be neutral or good for children. But that’s not what the research shows.

  12. Interesting idea. Even if the majority of early FIRE retirees are men, I’m not sure if the movement will ever get large enough to meaningfully bring down men’s averages and narrow the gap between men and women’s salaries. What I hope this movement will bring is more women would aspire to FIRE and therefore pursue promotions/higher earning careers so that they could retire sooner. Maybe that will help a bit too with the gap. At least that’s how it’s worked for me.

  13. I dont that unless employers intervene and take actions themselves, men can be trusted to step back and let women fill the earnings gap. Companies will have to forcibly reduce the working hours of men or even lay off men.

    The problem goes beyond the parental care gap. I have worked in tech consulting for 10 years and I firmly beleive the culture doesnt suit women. Not just married ones with children but even the single ones. There is this culture of men living and breathing their professions, working very late and odd hours, associating their self worth to their competence, willingness to sacrifice personal and dating lives, etc. This culture certainly does not suit women. Even young single, childfree ones.

    This problem isnt just between genders. Its also a cultural gap. Indians and Asians are dominating stem fields in Western countries because of the extreme emphasis on math and academics in their schools. The average American kid cant compete with them and if it werent for affirmative action and capping the hiring and admissions of Asians, our tech companies and top universities would be fully Asian.

    What can we do in such a situation and ensure equality of outcome? Perhaps we can ‘cap’ the output and working hours of individuals.We cant trust men because there will be too many of them willing to work extra hard. Many men are even shying away from marriage so the forced paternal leaves and layoffs on fatherhood arent going to work. We need to be proactive.

  14. I did a lot of research on this topic recently. I don’t believe we will see the gender wage gap narrow for this reason, as women leaving work force to have children is only a small slice of what causes it (although it is definitely a factor).

    In a nutshell, women tend to pursue lower-paying careers, work fewer hours than men, fail to negotiate salaries (especially older women) and have different priorities. Feminists may object to the statement, but in my observation, most women are less financially ambitious, on average. You suggest a few less men in corporate jobs means women will be more likely to “focus on grinding at work to climb up the corporate ladder and make more money.” I know few women who would care to do so.

    However, things are changing somewhat with the Millennial and younger crowd. (And we have to remember that only 50 years ago, less than half of women aspired to work outside of the home.) A lot has changed over time and will continue to do so, but I don’t see the FIRE movement being a big driver of it.

    I’ll link to my research on women, wealth and the wage gap in the website portion (though it was a guest post)

    1. Kate, this was very well put. As we have seen over the past 50 years, the doors for financial independence of women have been opening. As a society, lets not shove or shame women who choose another life path. Also, lets not close off doors to anyone on the other side.

      I feel somewhat guilty for pushing my wife to apply for new jobs with higher responsibility (stress/pay) and to negotiate harder for pay increases. She views a career/life differently than I do and it frustrated me significantly in the first years living together. I love my wife for better/worse. I will continue to suggest she take on new challenges and support her in doing so. But getting upset that she is not so focused on being a “Financial Samurai” is something I have let go of. She balances my life in other positive ways and I love her for that.

      I bet FS has some experience with this and might be topic worth blogging about later on…

  15. Thinking outside the box is the way to positive change. There are obviously problems with how things are now and it takes new ideas and perspectives to come up with new solutions. Great food for thought.

    1. What are these obvious “problems” you speak of?
      The premise of this topic is that there is a “problem” that needs solving.
      I challenge that assessment.

      Choices are good – Stay home to raise kids, play computer games all day or try to develop a side or spend thousands of hours, energy and developing stress working for the man. Any options are ok – pick your poison and go for it. What are the problems?

  16. This is motivational . I’ll encourage not only the18 year old women I know to register for selective service but all women. Hopefully the life expectancy gap will narrow with the wage gap. I would love to live as long as my wife for a 6% reduction in pay.

    1. I think your time would be better spent petitioning the government to end Selective Service and fully respect our human and individual rights rather than trying to get the women in your life on board with military’s conscription. No need to legitimize–or bring back–the concept of a government-owned citizenry.

      Fortunately, the chances of being drafted nowadays are slim to none.

      ARB–Angry Retail Banker

      1. Oh for F’s sake, it took me two minutes to type that comment and two and a half to realize what you were saying in your comment.

        Go me.

  17. Hi Sam,
    Thank you for addressing this very important issue.
    Many moms do return to the work force after having kids (myself included) but at reduced schedules. I have dropped to part time since having my 2nd child. It is hard to get promotions or significant raises when you are in the office less, working from home, leaving one job for another with more flexibility, etc. I think many women choose this route for a few main reasons 1.) we are still doing the vast majority of childcare and home maintence duties (there are many stats to back this up) 2.) high quality childcare it not affordable 3.) we are making lower salaries than men so it makes more sense financially to cut our hours rather than our husbands. When you havea full time job at home it is really very hard to have a second full time job in the office.

    If these 3 points changed it would be a drastically different work environment for working moms. Most of the full time working moms I know wish to work less but can’t becuase either she can’t afford to not work full time or she would need to put in the same amount of work but would get paid a part-time salary so it’s not worth it. In my opinion more women need to join the FIRE movement to make the money that they do earn stretch farther in order to start bridging this gap until more of the above points change.

  18. Judith Wilson

    Sam – this is a lazy article and to be honest I expect better from you.

    1. You’ve extrapolated your personal circumstances (your wife wants to stay at home) to a more general situation to make your argument – women are out of the workforce and can be helped by men leaving it (don’t get me started on that how simplistic that logic is!). In actual fact your wife is in the minority by a long way: most women actually don’t stay at home:

    The share of mothers who do not work outside the home rose to 29% in 2012, up from a modern-era low of 23% in 1999, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.

    From here:

    2. You’ve extrapolated individual quotes – I felt guilty! My husband can’t be trusted! Childcare providers are worse at looking after children than I am! to reinforce stereotypes about how women think. if you want to step in to this debate, please, please research this properly like a proper journalist/writer would and write something accurate – do the majority of women think like this? Maybe they do, but we certainly don’t know this from some random person you interviewed in your local playground.

    3. You’re assuming women take time out of the workforce because your wife did – lots don’t actually – and again where is the data on this? So there’s this: “43% of highly qualified women with children are leaving careers or off-ramping for a period of time.” – that sounds high right – 43%? Ummmm Basic stats? What this is actually saying is that the MAJORITY of women (57%) DO NOT leave careers or off-ramp.

    4. You’re assuming it’s men who FIRE (what?) – again where is the evidence for this?

    There’s lots and lots of research and data in this area, all easily accessible – please use it!

    I could go on but I’ve not got time because I’m too busy managing my FIRE portfolio :)

    1. Good thing everybody knows I’m a lazy person and people have low expectations of me. :)

      The great thing is that you have an opportunity to show how much you care about this topic and to share your insights through a guest post. Take action!

      Can you clarify your comment besides your disappointment in me and the fact that we all know I’m lazy?

      Are you for or against gender pay equality? And do you think there is a gender pay equality problem?


      1. I too felt that this article started off on a weird foot then got a lot better towards the end. Extrapolating personal circumstance to a wider movement doesn’t sit well with me as well as the idea that you’ve helped close the gender gap because a junior male colleague got your old position for a lesser pay. Gender gap isn’t just about the money- it’s also about availability of growth opportunities.

        I definitely agree with you that the gender gap will be significantly improved when we see a world where men and women equally participate in child rearing.

        Sam try to not get too salty when you receive feedback ^_^
        I think you’re great and have been following you for a while. You raise good points in this article but it made me raise eyebrows a few times. And congrats on getting into your neighborhood preschool!

        1. Thanks. Feel free to offer specific solutions and challenge why the FIRE movement doesn’t help narrow the gap.m

          My junior Colleague got the opportunity of a lifetime by getting more responsibility. He was subsequently promoted to vice president and makes more money than he would help with I did not leave when I did.

    2. Ouch. You must not be very pleasant person. Do you also go to a party and tell the host their food is terrible and their house is ugly?

      Fighting for pay equality is a good thing. I hope I don’t end up working with angry women like you in my career.

      People like you Judith are exactly the reason why some employers and managers will discriminate against women. People want to pay and promote people that are nice and easy to work with, not people like you with you attitude.

      1. Judith Wilson

        Apologies to you Sam if I worded my response too strongly and caused offence. I know from past comments you like debate around your articles :)

        Posting questionable analysis to a large readership on a published forum on the internet is completely different from going to a party!

        I wrote my response because Sam prides himself on his analysis and it’s often really good – I’m actually a big fan and long term reader of Sam’s stuff.

        This is a pretty biased article and I hope Sam would want me to point that out. I want to see some proper analysis here.

        Nancy -I really don’t think that discrimination exists because some people are ‘angry’ or ‘not very nice’. In fact blaming women for discrimination kind of compounds the problem.

        Sam – Go for it! Prove me wrong.

        1. Judy, how can you not believe that being outside of the workforce due to motherhood doesn’t contribute to the pay gap?

          In a previous comment, you revealed that you had nanny is taking care of your two kids the entire time you worked. If that’s the case, can you not see your own bias and lack of recognizing this issue?

      2. Nancy,
        You got all that insight about Judith from a blog post comment? Wow – you should bottle and sell that Insight Power. You could make some serious coin.

    3. Hmm I smell some over reacting. This isn’t Scientific America with a team of researchers and a set of research studies. This is just an opinion based article.

  19. Um, this whole gender pay gap thing is just another liberal/media talking point.

    I run a small business.

    If I thought for one second that I could reduce my salary expense by replacing all my male employees with females, I would do it in a heartbeat.

    And while this might be possible in some government bureaucracy that doesn’t actually have to compete; In the real world, this would be a complete disaster.

    Mother nature always wins, no matter how politically correct we strive to be….

  20. Interesting take. I guess it does make sense as I suspect the majority of people who retire early are males but I have come across a few female FIRE examples that would go against this line of thinking.

    Hopefully SAHD movement catches on and there is less of a stigma to it. If more job opportunities for women are created because of it, then hopefully companies will compensate them equally as the departing individual had been.

    1. Any article that encourages our culture to have men take on the invisible and emotional labor that women are mostly saddled with is a win in my book. The true wage gap is between paid and unpaid labor.

  21. Your argument sort of ignores that just as many women might choose to FIRE which would make the impact on the wage gap less defined. Plus as families become FI I would guess far more women than men will choose to become stay at home parents. It seems more likely to me that the FIRE movement will widen the wage gap by giving women greater choice not to work. I think statistics bear out that a higher percentage of women, by far, than men would choose running a household and raising kids over a 9 to 5 and that many just don’t do it because their overconsumption lifestyle makes it economically infeasible. But as families adopt the money practices that lead to FI they’ll gain freedom to choose and well before reaching FIRE status they will reach a status that lets women choose to stay at home without economic consequences. If the choice for more women than men is to leave the workforce then that will increase the gap by replacing experienced women workers with newbies working for less pay.

    1. If 80% of stay at home parents are moms and the vast majority of people pursuing FIRE are men, then how can just as many women pursue FIRE? It mathematically doesn’t make sense.

      Women have to play their part in narrowing the gender wage gap too. It doesn’t matter if statistics show women prefer to take care of the household. What matters is that women get back to work while men leave work due to FIRE.

      1. Judith Wilson

        What? Did you study maths? The population size is not the same!!!!!!

        80% of how many people in total? Only 29% of ALL women actually stay at home.

        It’s also a % not an actual figure…

        How do you know the vast majority of people pursuing FIRE are men? Source please?

        1. I meant if 20% of working men pursue FIRE then why wouldn’t 20% of working women do the same? My point is that given no economic impediment perhaps more men than women would choose to work and more women than men would choose to stay at home. Whether the reason for that is social or biological is above my pay grade but my experience is it is the case at least for now. It was certainly with my spouse and me. Sam is also above my pay grade both in critical thinking skills and net worth. But I’m not convinced that if FIRE has any impact on the wage gap it might actually worsen it.

  22. There is no such thing as a gender pay gap. There has been an equal pay law since the 70s. If a woman does the same job as a man, with the same education and credentials, the same experience, the same hours, she will get paid the same amount.

    Consider: If women actually made only 77% of a man’s wages,, no men would be employed. Every company would hire only women to save on labor costs.

    The people who push the myth just average the pay across all jobs. Guess what? A doctor makes more money than a nurse. A coal miner makes more money than a waitress.

    If I work full time, and you work part time, I made more money!

    If I work overtime and you don’t, I made more money!

    If you take 3 weeks of vacation and I take 3 days, and cash out the rest, my earnings went higher than yours!

    If you take 5 years out of the labor force and then come back, your wages will be lower than a person who works continuously.

    If I have an engineering degree and you have a 14th century Hungarian lesbian poetry degree, I will make more money than you will.

    Any difference in pay between men and women is because of CHOICES.

    1. Judith Wilson

      Sorry this is completely wrong as a number of significant individual and class action cases have shown time and again over decades. Women are still paid less than men for exactly the same work.

      I love the fact that this guy thinks that employers are complying with equal pay legislation. Absolutely priceless.

      I’m not even going to get into a debate about what constitutes a ‘choice’

      1. People suing their employer doesnt mean they are paid unfairly. It just means they THINK they are being paid unfairly.

        If the gender pay gap is real, why are any men employed? It would seem better to hire only women and save 25% on the labor budget, yes?

      2. Feel free to provide examples of an employer being found guilty of paying women less for the hours and same work.

    2. I recognize your points, however, do you really think mothers who take time off of work to take care of their children aren’t negatively affected in terms of pay if and when they return to work?

      It’s only logical to conclude that if you are out of work for let’s say two years, you will likely earn less and not be promoted as quickly compared to your colleague who kept on working during this time.

      We need more men to retire early and more mother’s to return to work sooner. A 50/50 stay at home parent ratio is what will achieve pay equality.

      Once the ratio is 50/50, there will be less inherent discrimination by employers towards women because they will now take into consideration that both men and women have an equal chance of leaving the work force to take care of kids.

      Or the government can decide to abolish all people having children so we all work consistently forever. But that’s not going to fly. Praised be.

      1. Of course they are. And that is their choice. If you are out of the labor force for an extended period of time, you have less experience, so you get less money. There’s nothing “unfair” about that. The gender pay gap is presented as some sort of “Companies are evil and pay men more than women” when really women have less experience, work fewer hours, take more time off, and are less productive. Consequently, they are paid less. So even discussing the “gender pay gap” lends credence to the myth of the pay gap.

        Many women are already foregoing kids in order to further their careers.

        1. I don’t think companies are evil. For profit companies look to maximize profits. Perhaps not-for-profit companies like The College Board looking to maximize profits might be considered unscrupulous.

          I think everybody can rationally agree that everyone has biases. It is the structural issue of raising children that is the reason for the pay gap. Someone needs to give birth and take care of the kids. And that someone so happens to be women.

          If we care for the sisters, daughters, and mothers in our lives, then we should recognize this structural issue and come up with solutions. One solution is embracing the FIRE movement. Other solutions include enacting into law Paternity Leave, not maternity leave. Another solution is to have in office childcare.

          Many solutions. Embracing the FIRE movement is just one of them.

          1. The reason for the pay gap is women choosing to get worthless degrees, choosing to work easy jobs, choosing to work fewer hours than men work, and choosing to take more time out of the labor force. It’s not a company bias, it’s the result of choices that people make.

            Men pay more for car insurance because they cause more accidents. Women get less money because they work easy jobs and work fewer hours. Yet you don’t hear men crying about their high car insurance premiums. You get the consequences of the choices you make.

            I care about the women in my life. That’s why I encourage them to get good degrees and work hard. Not to get a womens studies degree and then get a starbucks job and complain about the pay gap.

            We don’t need to salve the gender pay gap. It isn’t a problem.

            1. Judith Wilson

              Yeah apparently ethnic minorities and white working class people make these kinds of bad choices too. They chose easy jobs and do poor qualifications and that’s why they get paid badly too.

              There’s no pay gap there either, apparently.

              Just to be clear in case this guy or anyone else doesn’t understand, that was sarcasm.

            2. The gender pay gap does exist, but you should compare salaries WITHIN the same job, not between one job and another.

              Example: in my company it was found that women were paid less for the SAME ROLE as mine while working more hours. Same job, same efficiency, often better output because they were more detail-oriented. Yet they were paid less than me and other male colleagues. Now how could this be the ‘choice’ of these women, as you seem to argue?

              I can tell you, it wasn’t their choice, they sued, and they won.

              This is a systematic issue. My company isn’t the only one where this happens. If you need more evidence, kindly consult the links to some examples of class action lawsuits that another commenter shared.

              To deny that the gender pay gap exists is to deny a very unfortunate reality.

            3. Women choose to get worthless degrees and work easy jobs? So the women who’ve I’ve worked with that were district/regional managers, auditors, financial advisors, compliance officers, transaction monitoring unit supervisors, compliance officers, and junior executives were, what, secretly men?

              Geez, talk about a male dominated world. Even the women are men!

              ARB–Angry Retail Banker

            4. @Judith Wilson- You’re right. Minorities and working class whites who make bad choices also get bad consequences.

              @Jay- They may have had less experience. Their work may have been less valuable to the company than you imagine. They may have been bad at negotiating salary. When you adjust for education, credentials, experience, etc, the “wage gap” becomes 2 or 3 cents, which is a rounding error. I can give you examples too. Look at google, the women there cried that they didn’t make enough, and the Google looked into it and found out they were actually underpaying MEN! The 5th largest company in the world!


              @ARB, Yes, women choose to get worthless degrees. Look at the data on who is getting Liberal arts, gender studies, foreign language, early education, crisis worker, psychology, philosophy etc degrees. Mostly women. Men as a whole make better choices in college majors, which makes them more employable. If you get a degree in 14th century Hungarian lesbian poetry, don’t expect a $100k salary.

              Not all women choose bad majors. Not all men choose good ones. But women choose useless majors much more often than men do, and the vast majority of useless majors are chosen by women. That’s the main reason why men hold most positions of power.

              Don’t misrepresent my points, please.


            5. @ARB also, in regards to easy job? How many women coal miners, garbage collectors, military intelligence specialists, FBI agents, soldiers, carpenters, electricians, farmers, firemen, policemen, etc do you know? There are women who do them, but they are few and far between. If you are afraid to get your hands dirty, you will have a lower expected salary. I worked in a foundry for a year. We had 42 staff in the furnace room (across various shifts). We had 71 welders. One of each were women.

            6. I am now ROFL laughing at Joe with his job examples. Apparently Joe does not know people who pursue higher education or highly paid careers, or any educated people. His vision and experience of the world does not seem to include lawyer, doctors, PhDs, or financiers.

              Very funny- I assume the furnace room example was meant to be humorous. Keep it up!

            7. @Snowcanyon terrific strawman there. They were just examples. You’re assuming that I’m painting everyone with a broad brush, when I have specifically said that is not the case. Yes, women get more college degrees than men. But many of those degrees are useless. A degree is only valuable if it’s in something useful, but many women don’t choose useful degrees.

              There are plenty of lawyers, doctors, and financiers. PhD is not a job.

              62% of lawyers are men. 60% of doctors are men. Over 80% of financiers are men. So you’re just helping me prove my point in that aspect. Most of the high earning careers are men, regardless of whether they are professional jobs or trades or blue collar jobs. That’s the main reason men make more $ than women; it’s not some sort of discrimination thing.

              A Doctor makes more money than a nurse. A lawyer makes more money than a paralegal. A coal miner makes more money than a waitress. A garbageman makes more money than a hairdresser.

    3. The Alchemist

      I agree with most of what Joe says (except for the blanket statement, which I’m not sure he meant to sound as bad as it does, about women choosing to get worthless degrees and take easy jobs— simply inserting the word “some” in there would have softened it a bit. Because some men do that too). And yes, I’m a woman.

      I believe the Gender Wage Gap, to the extent that it truly exists, is indeed the result of choices. The big question really is that having kids is sort of an existential choice, and it’s a thing that most women do want. However, looking at it from the point of view of the employer, why should the employer have to pay the cost of a woman choosing to have kids, taking herself out of the workforce, and coming back x years later with out-of-date skills/less experience? Is that “fair”?

      I’ve also witnessed women taking pretty shameless advantage of big employers in terms of maternity leave. One woman at our office got pregnant within 4 months of starting work. She went out on maternity leave with all the benefits appertaining thereto. She then returned, but literally within six months she was pregnant again, went out on maternity leave, and someone else had to shoulder the load while she was out for another 4 months or so. She returned and “worked” for about 2 months… and then left the institution permanently. So for the two years that she was “employed” with full benefits, she actually “worked” perhaps 9 months in total.

      How is that “fair”?

      The fact that women are the sex that has babies does present challenges in terms of keeping pay equal, but I really do believe that if you compare apples to apples, the gender wage gap is really a myth. There is already federal law making unequal pay illegal, so any woman who genuinely believes she’s underpaid versus an equivalent male co-worker has the right to legal action. What more is needed?

      1. Judith Wilson

        “The big question really is that having kids is sort of an existential choice, and it’s a thing that most women do want.”

        Yeah, definitely just an existential choice – there’s no need to have kids at all – it doesn’t affect the population of a country one iota. I’ve met no guys who wanted kids either….

        “However, looking at it from the point of view of the employer, why should the employer have to pay the cost of a woman choosing to have kids, taking herself out of the workforce, and coming back x years later with out-of-date skills/less experience? Is that “fair”?”

        Yeah, this is really the fault of women – guys aren’t bothered at all about having kids. it’s totally women’s responsibility to take time out of the workforce to care for them. I mean why would guys do that? I mean they’ve got a woman at home to look after their kids, right? Oh wait a minute…

        1. The Alchemist

          Who said anything about “fault”? My intent was to indicate that this IS a challenge to be wrestled with; women DO have the physical challenge of being the ones who bear children. But that physical reality does, rationally, create a burden for employers. Because in a purely rational world, an employer is optimally looking for a RELIABLE resource. A resource with a high likelihood of being taken out of the workforce for multiple months at a time involves cost.

          I’m not arguing that it’s right for employers to discriminate on this basis, I’m just acknowledging that it does impose a burden on employers. It’s probably ultimately “fair” for employers to support the larger picture of perpetuating the population, but in the short term, it certainly creates a direct overhead cost.

          Reality indicates that ANYONE, man or woman, who takes themselves out of the working world for a year or more at a time, for any reason, gets rusty. A skillset and value reassessment upon returning to the workforce is a valid proposition.

  23. Great showing the adjusted gender pay gap which a lot of news outlet don’t show because it doesn’t fit their narrative. I read somewhere that the adjusted gender pay gap is closer to 2 – 3% delta in favor of men. Of course there should be parity but this is getting real close.

    I’m not a big fan of looking at FIRE as a means to narrow the gender pay gap. FiRE is the lowering of pay of men to narrow the gap. I would prefer for the increase of women’s pay to get to parity.

    1. If you want women’s pay increased, tell them to make better decisions with their education, careers, and lives. Then they will make the same.

      1. Judith Wilson

        Yeah – tell Ethnic minorities and white working class people to make better decisions too – there’s no discrimination going on against those people either. *sarcasm*

        1. The Alchemist

          Circumstances can always be challenging, but if you’re a regular fan of Sam’s, as well as a fortunate FIRE practitioner, surely you believe in the principles of personal responsibility and agency.

          1. In Judith’s defense, Joe is pretty much saying that all women pick stupid majors, work low paying “high school” jobs, and then complain that they aren’t being paid as much as men in high level corporate positions. He directly said that in another comment, and it’s not really feasible to interpret his vague passive-aggressive comment as anything else.

            I do believe that much of the gender pay gap does revolve around the choices we make. Women are the ones who give birth, they physically need time off to recover, and culturally, women are still the ones expected to stay home and raise the child. This leads to a situation where women are receiving less pay in the long run just simply due to taking extended time off during their careers. And that’s fine, it is what it is and maybe not everybody values their success in life simply by the size of their paycheck and the impressiveness of their job title.

            However, the insinuation that all women are pretty much stupid and lazy is, let’s just say “intellectually dishonest”.

            ARB–Angry Retail Banker

        1. Here’s a good question for you. If women really make so much less money than men do, why employ any men at all? Why not hire only women and save 25% on the labor budget?

          1. That is an excellent question. This entire diatribe about the women pay gap fails the smell test.

            Logically, if it were true and viable, only women would be hired. This only makes economic sense. Because that is not the case, this entire phony issue is made up.

            We earn more than some and less than others due to literally hundreds or thousands of variables. Sex is probably #238 on the hierarchy.

  24. The Fire movement is merely a late stage sequela of the ad hoc International Monetary System that has been cobbled together post the 1971 US default. Financial assets have been way overinflated due to EuroDollar Bank credit creation. That paradigm is ending now and a big implosion leading to a waterfall decline might be the descendant of Credit Anstalt soon going to a 6 handle.

    The time to prepare has probably passed. Good luck to you that have no exposure to moveable real estate.

    Edit: But to be transparent, I haven’t invested in the stock market and real estate market since 1995 so I’ve missed out on everything. Hopefully, things will fall down so I can rise up.

    1. Your post could not make any less sense, and your edit basically makes trying comprehend anything you have to say pointless.

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