Women are paid less than men—and the gap is closing too slowly
Get the facts about the gender pay gap.
What you need to know
Women are paid less than men
When you look at full-time, year-round workers, women in the U.S. make 16% less than men. But that’s only part of the story. Among all workers—including the millions who worked part-time or for part of the year because of COVID-19—the gender pay gap is an alarming 23%.1
How it works
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 2015.10
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 gap11
Did you know?
The pay gap widens the wealth gap: in other words, how much women are worth, or how much they own. Single white women own 92 cents on the dollar compared to single men. And shockingly, single Black women own less than 8 cents on the dollar compared to white men.12
Families are on the front line
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 breadwinners13
Did you know?
The pay gap is even worse for mothers—who are paid 42% less than fathers.14 This inequality holds true across race, state, and occupation.
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 over $500 billion into the U.S. economy.15
Every woman deserves fair pay.
It’s time to close the gap.
How the system is failing Latinas and Black women
Fight bias against women of color at your company
- Jessica Mason, National Partnership for Women and Families, personal communication, September 2022. The data for women of different races and ethnicities is calculated including women who worked part time or part of the year. The number for all women is based only on women who worked all year long, all year round. When you include workers who worked part-time or part of the year, you get numbers that are more inclusive and accurate because they captures 33 million additional working women, including many lower-income workers who reduced their hours or worked part of 2020 due to the pandemic.
- Data visualization shows median weekly earnings across race and ethnicity for every dollar white men earn. From Hegewisch and Mefferd, “Lost Jobs, Stalled Progress.” Note: For Native American women, data used is from the National Women’s Law Center, “Native American Women Need Action That Closes the Wage Gap” (September 2021), https://nwlc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Native-Women-Equal-Pay-2021.pdf
- Jessica Mason, National Partnership for Women and Families, personal communication, September 2022
- 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, https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d20/tables/dt20_318.10.asp?current.asp.
- Note: Pay gaps by education level increase in absolute dollar amounts.
- 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 March 3, 2023, https://data.bls.gov/PDQWeb/le.
- National Women’s Law Center calculations are based on 2013–2017 American Community Survey five-year sample using IPUMS-USA, available at https://usa.ipums.org/usa/. Figures are based on women’s and men’s median earnings for full-time, year-round workers. Figures are not adjusted for inflation. Earnings are in 2017 dollars. Workers without a high school diploma exclude those who have not completed at least ninth grade. Source: Jasmine Tucker, “Equal Pay for Native Women,” National Women’s Law Center (September 2019) https://nwlc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Native-Women-Equal-Pay-2020.pdf
- Miller, “As Women Take Over.”
- LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2019 (October 2019), https://womenintheworkplace.com.
National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), “The Lifetime Wage Gap by State for Women Overall” (March 2023), https://nwlc.org/resource/the-lifetime-wage-gap-by-state-for-women-overall/.
NWLC, “Lifetime Wage Gap Losses for White, Non-Hispanic Women State Rankings” (March 2023), https://nwlc.org/resource/the-lifetime-wage-gap-by-state-for-white-non-hispanic-women/
Losses for Black Women State Rankings” (March 2023), https://nwlc.org/resource/the-lifetime-wage-gap-by-state-for-black-women/
Native American Women Overall State Rankings” (March 2023) https://nwlc.org/resource/the-lifetime-wage-gap-by-state-for-native-women/
NWLC, “The Lifetime Wage Gap by State for Latinas” (March 2023) https://nwlc.org/resource/the-lifetime-wage-gap-by-state-for-latinas/
NWLC, “The Lifetime Wage Gap by State for Asian Women” (March 2023)https://nwlc.org/resource/the-lifetime-the-lifetime-wage-gap-by-state-for-asian-women/
NWLC, “The Lifetime Wage Gap for Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Women” (March 2023) https://nwlc.org/resource/the-lifetime-wage-gap-by-state-for-nhopi-women/
- Daan Struyven, Gizelle George-Joseph, and Daniel Milo, “Black Womenomics: Investing in the Underinvested,” Goldman Sachs, The Bigger Picture (March 9, 2021), https://www.goldmansachs.com/insights/pages/black-womenomics-f/black-womenomics-report.pdf.
- Julie Anderson, “Breadwinner Mothers by Race/Ethnicity and State”, IWPR #Q079, April 2020, Accessed February 16, 2022, https://iwpr.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/QF-Breadwinner-Mothers-by-Race-FINAL-46.pdf. Note: Breadwinner mothers are defined as single mothers who head a household or partnered mothers who generate at least 40 percent of a household’s joint income.
- Equal Pay Today, “Moms Equal Pay Day 2022,” accessed March 7, 2023, http://www.equalpaytoday.org/moms-equal-pay-day-2022.
- Jessica Milli et al., “The Impact of Equal Pay on Poverty and the Economy,” IWPR #C455 (April 5, 2017), https://iwpr.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/C455.pdf.