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Pay Equity & Discrimination

About Pay Equity & Discrimination

Women are almost half of the workforce. They are the equal, if not main, breadwinner in four out of ten families. They receive more college and graduate degrees than men. Yet, on average, women continue to earn considerably less than men. In 2012, female full-time workers made only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 23 percent. Women, on average, earn less than men in virtually every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio.

In 2012, female full-time workers made only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 23 percent.

IWPR tracks the gender wage gap over time in a series of fact sheets updated annually. According to our research, if change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past fifty years, it will take almost fifty years—or until 2058—for women to finally reach pay parity. IWPR’s annual fact sheet on the gender wage gap by occupation shows that women earn less than men in almost any occupation. IWPR’s Status of Women in the States project tracks the gender wage gap across states. IWPR’s project on sex and race discrimination in the workplace shows that outright discrimination in pay, hiring, or promotions continues to be a significant feature of working life.

Pay equity may also be impacted by other more subtle factors than workplace discrimination. IWPR’s research shows that, irrespective of the level of qualification, jobs predominantly done by women pay less on average than jobs predominantly done by men. Women have made tremendous strides during the last few decades by moving into jobs and occupations previously done almost exclusively by men, yet during the last decade there has been very little further progress in the gender integration of work. This persistent occupational segregation is a significant contributor to the lack of significant progress in closing the wage gap.

IWPR, in collaboration with The WAGE Project, Inc., examined consent decree remedies for sex and race discrimination in the workplace. Consent decrees are court approved settlements of law suits where the defendant does not admit guilt but agrees to the implementation of a set of measures to remedy and prevent future occurrence of potentially unlawful practices. In employment discrimination cases, in addition to individual relief (such as monetary damages for the person(s) who brought the discrimination claim), consent decrees typically mandate organizational remedies such as sexual harassment training, the introduction of new grievance procedures, supervisory training or revised performance management, and reward schemes. Click here for more information.

 

Resources

The Gender Wage Gap: 2013 | Fact Sheet

The Wage Gap by Occupation: 2013 | Fact Sheet

Ending Sex and Race Discrimination in the Workplace: Legal Interventions That Push the Envelope | Report

To see our experts on this and other initiatives, click here.

Visit our external resources page for links to more information on this topic.

Latest Reports from IWPR

Occupational Segregation and the Gender Wage Gap: A Job Half Done
by Ariane Hegewisch and Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. (June 2014)

This report was prepared by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) as a part of a series of Scholars’ Papers sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of American Women: Report of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, 1963.

 

The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation and by Race and Ethnicity, 2013
by Ariane Hegewisch and Stephanie Keller Hudiburg (April 2014)

Women’s median earnings are lower than men’s in nearly all occupations, whether they work in occupations predominantly done by women, occupations predominantly done by men, or occupations with a more even mix of men and women. Data for both women’s and men’s median weekly earnings for full-time work are available for 112 occupations ; there are only three occupations in which women have higher median weekly earnings than men. In 101 of the 112 occupations, the gender earnings ratio of women’s median weekly earnings to men’s is 0.95 or lower (that is, a wage gap of at least 5 cents per dollar earned by men); in 17 of these occupations the gender earnings ratio is lower than 0.75 (that is, a wage gap of more than 25 cents per dollar earned by men).

 

The Gender Wage Gap: 2013; Differences by Race and Ethnicity, No Growth in Real Wages for Women
by Ariane Hegewisch, Claudia Williams, Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., and Stephanie Keller Hudiburg (March 2014)

The gender wage gap in the United States has not seen significant improvement in recent years, and remains a reality for women across racial and ethnic groups. In 2013, the ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly full-time earnings was 82.1 percent, an increase of more than one percentage point since 2012,when the ratio was 80.9 percent (but still slightly lower than the 2011 ratio of 82.2 percent). This corresponds to a weekly gender wage gap of 17.9 percent. Real earnings have remained largely unchanged since 2012; women’s median weekly earnings increased by $5 to $706 in 2013; men’s median weekly earnings increased to $860, a marginal increase of $7 compared with 2012.

 

Pay Secrecy and Wage Discrimination
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (January 2014)

About half of all workers (51 percent of women and 47 percent of men) report that the discussion of wage and salary information is either discouraged or prohibited and/or could lead to punishment. Most government agencies have formal grade and step systems that make general wage and salary information public (only 18 percent of women and 11 percent of men in the public sector report discouragement or prohibition of wage and salary discussions).

 

How Equal Pay for Working Women would Reduce Poverty and Grow the American Economy
by Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Jeffrey Hayes, Ph.D., and Jennifer Clark (January 2014)

Persistent earnings inequality for working women translates into lower pay, less family income, and more poverty in families with a working woman, which is of no small consequence to working families. About 71 percent of all mothers in the United States work for pay. Of these, about two-thirds (68 percent) are married and typically have access to men’s incomes, but married women’s earnings are nevertheless crucial to family support. One-third (32 percent) are single mothers and often the sole support of their families. And many without children, both single and married, work to support themselves and other family members. This briefing paper summarizes analyses of the 2010-2012 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic supplement and uses statistical controls for labor supply, human capital, and labor market characteristics to estimate: 1) how much women’s earnings and family incomes would rise with equal pay; 2) how much women and their families lose because women earn less than similarly qualified men; and 3) how much the economy as a whole suffers from inequality in pay between women and men.

 

Gender Wage Gap Projected to Close in Year 2058: Most Women Working Today Will Not See Equal Pay during their Working Lives
by Jeff Hayes, Ph.D. (September 2013)

 

The Gender Wage Gap: 2012
by Ariane Hegewisch, Claudia Williams (September 2013)

The ratio of women’s and men’s median annual earnings was 76.5 percent for full-time/year-round workers in 2012. This means the gender wage gap for full-time/year-round workers is 23.5 percent. Women’s median annual earnings in 2012 were $37,791 compared with $49,398 for men. The gender wage gap has stayed essentially unchanged since 2001. In the previous decade, between 1991 and 2000, it closed by almost four percentage points, and in the decade prior to that, 1981 and 1990, by over ten percentage points (Table 2). If the pace of change in the annual earnings ratio continues at the same rate as it has since 1960, it will take another 45 years, until 2058, for men and women to reach parity.

 

Spring/Summer 2013 Newsletter-25th Anniversary Edition
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (August 2013)

This special 25th Anniversary edition of the newsletter presents a review of IWPR's policy research since our founding in 1987.

 

Workforce Investment System Reinforces Occupational Gender Segregation and the Gender Wage Gap
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (June 2013)

IWPR’s analysis of training services received by WIA clients shows stark gender segregation in the jobs and careers for which women and men receive training.

 

The Truth in the Data: How Quantifying Women’s Labor Market Experiences Changes the Conversation about the Economy
by Ariane Hegewisch, Maxwell Matite, and Youngmin Yi (May 2013)

From the outset, IWPR has highlighted the wage gap as a key indicator of women’s economic security and gender (in)equality in the workplace. Fact sheets on the overall gender wage gap were published in IWPR’s first years and document how much the earnings ratio between men and women changed over time, as well as how earnings for different groups of women varied over this period of time. From 1996 onwards, the Institute’s research program on the Status of Women in the States has made these data available on a state-by-state basis, including in the report Women's Economic Status in the States: Wide Disparities by Race, Ethnicity, and Region (published in 2004). IWPR also provides state-by-state wage data in Femstats, a section of its website, in spreadsheet form. IWPR’s research has also linked trends in the wage gap to policy developments, changes in the economy, and ongoing changes in women’s lives. Such trends as later marriage, reduced fertility, gains in education, the growth of low-wage jobs and contingent work in the U.S. economy, and changes in the minimum wage, equal employment opportunity enforcement, and collective bargaining all affect women’s opportunities in the labor market, including their labor force participation and the amount of sex segregation they face in employment. IWPR’s studies have ranged from detailed examinations of specific industries to analyses of trends affecting the entire economy.

 

The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation
by Ariane Hegewisch and Maxwell Matite (April 2013)

Women’s median earnings are lower than men’s in nearly all occupations, whether they work in occupations predominantly done by women, occupations predominantly done by men, or occupations with a more even mix of men and women. During 2012, median weekly earnings for female full-time workers were $691, compared with $854 per week for men, a gender wage ratio of 80.9 percent (Table 1; a gender wage gap of 19.1 percent).1 Added to the gender wage gap within occupations is the gender wage gap between occupations. Male-dominated occupations tend to pay more than female-dominated occupations at similar skill levels, particularly in jobs that require higher educational levels.2 Tackling occupational segregation is an important part of eliminating the gender wage gap.

 

At Current Pace of Progress, Wage Gap for Women Expected to Close in 2057
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (April 2013)

 

The Gender Wage Gap: 2012
by Ariane Hegewisch, Claudia Williams, and Angela Edwards (March 2013)

In 2012, the ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly full-time earnings was 80.9 percent, a decline of more than one percentage point since 2011 when the ratio was 82.2 percent. This corresponds to a weekly gender wage gap of 19.1 percent for 2012. Women’s median weekly earnings in 2012 were $691, a marginal decline compared to 2011; men’s median weekly earnings were $854, a marginal increase compared to 2011.

 
Preview not available

The Gender Wage Gap in New York State and Its Solutions
by Ariane Hegewish, Jeff Hayes, Heidi Hartmann, Jocelyn Fischer, Claudia Williams, Justine Augeri (December 2012)

 

The Gender Wage Gap: 2011
by Ariane Hegewisch and Angela Edwards (September 2012)

The ratio of women’s and men’s median annual earnings was 77.0 for full-time/year-round workers in 2011, essentially unchanged from 77.4 in 2010. (This means the gender wage gap for full-time/year-round workers is now 23 percent.) During the last decade the wage gap narrowed by less than half of one percentage point. In the previous decade, between 1991 and 2000, it closed by almost four, and in the decade prior to that, 1981 and 1990, by over ten percentage points.

 

Gender Segregation in Fields of Study at Community Colleges and Implications for Future Earnings
by Layla Moughari, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, and Barbara Gault, Ph.D. (May 2012)

Postsecondary education yields myriad benefits, including increased earnings potential, higher lifetime wages, and access to quality jobs. But postsecondary degrees are not all equalin the benefits they bring to students and women tend to obtain degrees in fields with lower earnings. Women with associate degrees earn approximately 75 percent of what men with associate degrees earn (U.S. Department of Commerce and the Executive Office of the President, 2011). This wage gap occurs in part because women with AA degrees—like women at all degree levels—often work in lower-paid, female-dominated occupations (Hegewisch, et al. 2010).

 

The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation
by Ariane Hegewisch, Claudia Williams, and Vanessa Harbin (April 2012)

Women’s median earnings are lower than men’s in nearly all occupations, whether they work in occupations predominantly done by women, occupations predominantly done by men, or occupations with a more even mix of men and women.

 

The Gender Wage Gap: 2011
by Ariane Hegewisch, Claudia Williams, and Anlan Zhang (March 2012)

The ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly full-time earnings rose by one percentage point since 2010 and reached a historical high of 82.2 percent. The narrowing of the weekly gender earnings gap from 18.8 percent to 17.8 percent, however, is solely due to real wages falling further for men than for women. Both men and women’s real earnings have declined since 2010; men’s real earnings declined by 2.1 percent (from $850 to $832 in 2011 dollars), women’s by 0.9 percent (from $690 to $684 in 2011 dollars).

 

Tipped Over the Edge: Gender Inequity in the Restaurant Industry
by Restaurant Opportunities Center United and Family Values @ Work, HERvotes, IWPR, MomsRising, NCBCP's Black Women's Roundtable, NCRW, NOW Foundation, NPWF, NWLC, WOW, NYU Wagner, 9to5 (February 2012)

The restaurant industry employs over 10 million workers in one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors of the United States economy. The majority of workers in this huge and growing sector are women. Despite the sector’s growth and potential to offer opportunities to advance women’s economic security, restaurant workers’ wages have not kept pace with the industry’s economic growth.The restaurant industry offers some of the nation’s lowest-wage jobs, with little access to benefits and career advancement. In 2010, seven of the ten lowest-paid occupations were all restaurant occupations. The restaurant industry has one of the highest concentrations of workers (39 percent) earning at or below the minimum wage. Moreover, low wages tell only part of the story; workers also lack access to benefits and career mobility. These challenges create a disproportional burden for women.

 

Tipped Over the Edge: Gender Inequity in the Restaurant Industry (Executive Summary)
by Restaurant Opportunities Center United and Family Values @ Work, HERvotes, IWPR, MomsRising, NCBCP's Black Women's Roundtable, NCRW, NOW Foundation, NPWF, NWLC, WOW, NYU Wagner, 9to5 (February 2012)

The restaurant industry employs over 10 million workers1 in one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors of the United States economy. The majority of workers in this huge and growing sector are women. Despite the sector’s growth and potential to offer opportunities to advance women’s economic security, restaurant workers’ wages have not kept pace with the industry’s economic growth. The restaurant industry offers some of the nation’s lowest-wage jobs, with little access to benefits and career advancement. In 2010, seven of the ten lowest-paid occupations were all restaurant occupations.The restaurant industry has one of the highest concentrations of workers (39 percent) earning at or below the minimum wage. Moreover, low wages tell only part of the story; workers also lack access to benefits and career mobility. These challenges create a disproportional burden for women.

 
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