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Women are paid less than men—and that hits harder in an economic crisis.

Get the facts about the gender pay gap.

What you need to know

It’s often worse for women of color

If you break it down by race and ethnicity, the pay gap is even wider for Black women, Native American women, and Latinas.2

The pay gap by gender and race3

How it works

Women are better educated but undervalued

Women have been graduating from college at higher rates than men for decades.4 But diplomas don’t translate to dollars: The pay gap actually increases for women at higher education levels.5

The pay gap by education level6

Even in the same job, women and men receive different pay

Women are just as likely to pursue many high-paying careers.7 But even in the same job, women are generally paid less than men. For example, women managers earn 21% less than men managers, on average.

The pay gap by occupation8

Did you know?

Research shows that when women join an industry in large numbers, pay goes down.9 For example, wages in parks and recreation dropped by 57 percentage points as the field went from predominantly men to women workers.10

Women are asking for more—they’re just not getting it

Women are asking for promotions and negotiating for raises at the same rates as men—and we’ve seen this in our research since 2015.11

Why it matters

Women are losing out on millions

The pay gap is not about a single paycheck. Over the course of a career, the lost income can add up to over a million dollars.

Average lost income over a 40-year career due to the pay gap12

Did you know?

The pay gap widens the wealth gap: In other words, how much women are worth, or how much they own. Single women own 32 cents on the dollar compared to single men. And shockingly, single Black women and Latinas own less than two cents on the dollar compared to white men.13

Families are on the frontline

Mothers are breadwinners in half of U.S. households—meaning their families depend on their paycheck. When moms are paid less, they have less money for basic family necessities like rent, groceries, and school supplies. Over time, this impacts families’ ability to invest in savings, higher education, or property.

Share of mothers who are breadwinners14

Did you know?

The pay gap is even worse for mothers—who are paid 30% less than fathers.15 This inequality holds true across race, state, and occupation.

The pay gap is a global problem

Around the world, women earn 23% less than men.16 However, the pay gap doesn’t paint a full picture of women’s economic equality. Other factors like workforce participation and access to credit hold women back—and at the current rate, it will take 257 years to close this economic gap.17

The gender pay gap by country18

  • 18% United States
  • 17% United Kingdom
  • 36% Pakistan
  • 26% Republic of Korea
  • 29% South Africa
  • 10% Malawi
  • 16% Mexico
  • 26% Brazil
  • 24% Chile
  • 21% Poland
  • 25% Russia
  • 13% Australia

Closing the gap benefits everyone

Closing the pay gap isn’t just a win for women—it has social and economic benefits too. If women were paid fairly, we could cut the poverty rate in half and inject $512.6 billion into the U.S. economy.19

Every woman deserves fair pay.
It’s time to close the gap.


  1. Ariane Hegewisch and Adiam Tesfaselassie, “The Gender Wage Gap: 2020; Earnings Differences by Gender, Race, and Ethnicity,” IWPR #C495 (September 2020),
  2. Data visualization shows median weekly earnings across race and ethnicity for every dollar white men earn from Hegewisch and Tesfaselassie, “The Gender Wage Gap: 2019”; Note: For Native American women, data used is from AAUW, “The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap,” (Fall 2020 edition),
  3. Hegewisch and Tesfaselassie, “The Gender Wage Gap: 2019
  4. Short version: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, “Degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by level of degree and sex of student: Selected years, 1869-70 through 2029-30”, (2020), accessed March 8, 2021.
  5. Note: Pay gaps by education level increase in absolute dollar amounts
  6. U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey: Wage and Salary Workers—People 25 years and older by Median Usual Weekly Earnings, Education Level, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex. Accessed February 24, 2021 For Native American women, data is based on NWLC calculations are based on 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-year sample using IPUMS-USA available at Figures are based on women’s and men’s median earnings for full-time, year round workers.
  7. Claire Cain Miller, “As Women Take Over a Male-Dominated Field, the Pay Drops”, The New York Times, March 18, 2016,
  8. The data visualization showing incomes for women and men in different occupations uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement: Table PINC-06: Wage and Salary Workers—People 15 Years Old and Over by Total Wage and Salary Income, Work Experience, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex. Retrieved March 18, 2020, from; The Native American women data is based on NWLC calculations from the 2020 American Community Survey 1-year sample using IPUMS-USA available at Figures are in 2020 dollars. Median hourly wages are for full time, year round workers.
  9. Miller, “As Women Take Over”
  10. Ibid.
  11. LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2019,
  12. National Women’s Law Center, “The Lifetime Wage Gap, State by State”, (March 2020),
  13. Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap, “The Women’s Wealth Gap: What it Is, Why it Matters, and What Can Be Done About It”, March 2020,
  14. Julie Anderson, “Breadwinner Mothers by Race/Ethnicity and State”, IWPR #Q079, April 2020, Accessed February 24, 2021, Note: Breadwinner mothers are defined as single mothers who head a household or married mothers who generate at least 40 percent of a household’s joint income.
  15. Jasmine Tucker, “Effects of COVID-19 show us equal pay is critical for mothers” National Women’s Law Center, (May 2020), Accessed March 8, 2021,
  16. United Nations Women, “Wage Gap” (March 2020),
  17. World Economic Forum, “Global Gender Gap Report 2020“,
  18. International Labor Organization, “Global Wage Report 2018/19: How big is the gender pay gap in your country?”,; Ariane Hegewisch and Adiam Tesfaselassie, “The Gender Wage Gap: 2020; Earnings Differences by Gender, Race, and Ethnicity,” IWPR #C495 (September 2020),
  19. Jessica Milli et al., “The Impact of Equal Pay on Poverty and the Economy”, IWPR #C455, April 5, 2017,