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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

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.5 But diplomas don’t translate to dollars: the pay gap remains at higher education levels and actually increases for some women.6

The pay gap by education level7

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

Women are just as likely to pursue many high-paying careers.9 But even in the same job, women are generally paid less than men. For example, women managers earn 23% less than men managers, on average.

The pay gap by occupation10

Did you know?

Research shows that when women join an industry in large numbers, pay goes down.12 For example, wages in parks and recreation dropped by 57 percentage points as the field went from predominantly men to women workers.13

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 2015.14

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 gap15

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.16

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 breadwinners17

Did you know?

The pay gap is even worse for mothers—who are paid 42% less than fathers.18 This inequality holds true across race, state, and occupation.

The pay gap is a global problem 19

Around the world, women earn 23% less than men.20 However, the pay gap doesn’t paint a full picture of women’s economic inequality. Other factors like workforce participation and access to credit hold women back—and at the current rate, it will take 268 years to close this economic gap.21

The gender pay gap by country

  • 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 over $500 billion into the U.S. economy.22

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

Footnotes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Jessica Mason, National Partnership for Women and Families, personal communication, September 2022
  4. Note: In 2019, Asian women made $0.87 for every dollar earned by white men. The 2020 data (presented on this page) are likely skewed because Asian American women at lower income levels were more likely to drop out of the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic compared Asian American women at higher income levels.
  5. 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.
  6. Note: Pay gaps by education level increase in absolute dollar amounts.
  7. 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 January 30, 2022, https://data.bls.gov/PDQWeb/le.
  8. 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.
  9. Claire Cain Miller, “As Women Take Over a Male-Dominated Field, the Pay Drops,” The New York Times, March 18, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/upshot/as-women-take-over-a-male-dominated-field-the-pay-drops.html.
  10. 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,” January 31, 2021, https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/income-poverty/cps-pinc/pinc-06.2020.html.
  11. Tucker, “Equal Pay for Native Women.” 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: Tucker, “Equal Pay for Native Women.”
  12. Miller, “As Women Take Over.”
  13. Ibid.
  14. LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2019 (October 2019), https://womenintheworkplace.com.
  15. National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), “The Lifetime Wage Gap by State for Women Overall” (March 2021), https://nwlc.org/resource/the-lifetime-wage-gap-by-state-for-women-overall/.
  16. 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.
  17. Julie Anderson, “Breadwinner Mothers by Race/Ethnicity and State”, IWPR #Q079, April 2020, Accessed February 24, 2021, 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.
  18. Equal Pay Today, “Moms Equal Pay Day 2022,” accessed November 15, 2022, http://www.equalpaytoday.org/moms-equal-pay-day-2022.
  19. The US pay gap is calculated based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data; All other countries’ pay gaps are from International Labor Organization, “Global Wage Report 2018/19.”: How big is the gender pay gap in your country?”, https://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/multimedia/maps-and-charts/enhanced/WCMS_650829/lang--en/index.htm.
  20. United Nations Women, “Wage Gap” (March 2020), http://interactive.unwomen.org/multimedia/infographic/changingworldofwork/en/index.html. Note: The International Labor Organization estimates the global gender wage gap to be around 20%: International Labor Organization, “Global Wage Report 2018/19: How big is the gender pay gap in your country?” (November 26, 2018), https://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/multimedia/maps-and-charts/enhanced/WCMS_650829/lang--en/index.htm.
  21. World Economic Forum, “Global Gender Gap Report 2021” (March 30, 2021), https://www.weforum.org/reports/global-gender-gap-report-2021.
  22. 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.