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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 2015, female full-time workers made only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 21 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 2015, female full-time workers made only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 21 percent.

IWPR tracks the gender wage gap over time in a series of fact sheets updated twice per year. According to our research, if change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past fifty years, it will take 44 years—or until 2059—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 report 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 be affected by the segregation of jobs by gender and other factors. 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. In some industries and occupations, like construction, there has been no progress in forty years. In middle-skill occupations workers in jobs mainly done by women earn only 66 percent of workers in jobs mainly done by men. This persistent occupational segregation is a primary contributor to the lack of significant progress in closing the wage gap. According to a recent regression analysis of federal data by IWPR, the poverty rate for working women would be cut in half if women were paid the same as comparable men.

 

Resources

The Gender Wage Gap and Public Policy | Briefing Paper
The Economic Impact of Equal Pay by State
| Fact Sheet
The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation 2015
| Fact Sheet
Women’s Median Earnings as a Percent of Men’s Median Earnings, 1960-2013 (Full-time, Year-round
Workers) with Projection for Pay Equity in 2059
| Quick Figures
How Equal Pay for Working Women would Reduce Poverty and Grow the American Economy
| Briefing Paper

Pay Secrecy and Wage Discrimination
| Quick Figures

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

Statusofwomendata.org | State-level data on women's Employment & Earnings

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

The Workforce Investment Act and Women’s Progress: Does WIA Funded Training Reinforce Sex Segregation in the Labor Market and the Gender Wage Gap?
by Ariane Hegewisch, Helen Luyri (December 2009)

#C72, Briefing Paper, 8 pages
$5.00
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Still a Man’s Labor Market: The Long-Term Earnings Gap
by (February 2008)

This Research-in-Brief summarizes Still A Man’s Labor Market: The Long-Term Earnings Gap, a report by Stephen J. Rose, Rose Economic Consulting, and Heidi Hartmann, Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), published by IWPR in 2004. The report uses data from a 15-year longitudinal study (from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics) and shows that over that period women earned 62 percent less than men, or only 38 cents for every dollar men earned. This is less than half of the more conventional measure of the pay gap based on year-round earnings of full-time workers for a single year, which stands at 23 percent, or 77 cents for every male dollar earned. This new measure shows the costs over time for women and their families of the continued unequal division of family labor, with women having to make most of the adjustments of time in the labor market to perform family work. The report provides a detailed analysis of the gendered patterns in the labor market, showing that women are much more likely than men to have persistently low earnings; that women and especially men continue to work disproportionately in occupations where the majority of workers are of their own sex; that across the board men’s jobs involve longer working hours than women’s jobs, but that the pay premium for male jobs far exceeds the additional hours worked. The report also shows that over the period studied women were more likely to experience growth in earnings than men, but the earnings gap remained large.

 

Memo to John Roberts: The Gender Wage Gap is Real
by Heidi Hartmann,PhD, Barbara Gault,PhD, and Erica Williams (August 2005)

Equal pay and the wage gap have become central issues in discussions of John Roberts’ nomination to the Supreme Court. Roberts authored documents in 1983 and 1984 suggesting he did not believe that that there was a gender pay gap or that women experienced pay discrimination, and voicing opposition to proposed actions to promote pay equity, including the Equal Rights Amendment and comparable worth remedies. For example, one memo referred to “the purported gender gap,” while another discussed “perceived problems” of gender bias, and another called comparable worth policies “highly objectionable” and “staggeringly pernicious.”1 Census Bureau data show that the gender pay gap was quite real in the 1980’s, and persists today, even among men and women with comparable education levels.

#C362, Fact Sheet, 3 pages
$5.00
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State-by-State Rankings on Women's Economic Status: Data on the Wage Gap and Women's Poverty
by (October 2004)

 
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Women and the Economy: Recent Trends in Job Loss, Labor Force Participation, and Wages
by Heidi Hartmann, Vicky Lovell and Misha Werschkul (September 2004)

In the months since the official end of the recession in November 2001, women’s employment has returned to pre-recession levels, but the lack of job growth in this period means millions of jobs for women are missing. At the same time, the long-term increase in women’s labor force participation has stalled, and the gender wage gap has increased.

#B245, 6 pages
$10.00
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Still a Man's Labor Market: The Long-Term Earnings Gap
by Stephen J. Rose, Ph. D. and Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. (February 2004)

Many argue that women’s prospects in the labor market have steadily increased and that any small remaining gap in earnings between women and men is not significant. They see the remaining differences as resulting from women’s own choices. Others believe that with women now graduating from college at a higher rate than men and with the economy continuing its shift toward services, work and earnings differences between women and men may disappear entirely.

#C355, Report, 46 pages
$15.00
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The Gender Wage Gap: Progress of the 1980s Fails to Carry Through
by Heidi Hartmann, PhD, and Vicky Lovell, PhD (October 2003)

The gender wage gap is much narrower now than it was at the start of the revolutionary decade of the 1960s, when long-standing barriers to women's educational achievement and employment success began to be dismantled and the first of a series of critical equal employment opportunity standards were enacted by Congress. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the ratio of women’s to men’s earnings was 76.6 in 2002, for full-time workers employed year-round. The comparable figure in 1960 was 60.7.

#C353, Fact Sheet, 3 pages
$5.00
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The Gender Gap in Pension Coverage: What Does the Future Hold?(Final Report)
by Lois Shaw, Ph.D. and Catherine Hill, Ph.D. (December 2001)

This report documents pension coverage among male and female employees and examines voluntary and involuntary reasons why women and men do not participate in pension plans. The good news is that women are participating in pension plans in greater numbers, and, for women working full-time, near equality with men has been achieved. Part-time workers (who are disproportionately women), however, remain much less likely to participate in employer-sponsored pension plans. Less than a third of part-time workers participate in a pension plan. The largest difference in participation between female and male employees occurs for older workers (aged 45- 64), with 35 percent of women saying they work too few hours to participate in their company’s plan compared with 20 percent of men. Overall, older female employees are less likely to expect to have a pension in retirement from any source than are older male workers; 36 percent of male employees lack a pension from any employer compared with 44 percent of female employees.

#D447, Report, 22 pages
$10.00
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The Gender Gap in Pension Coverage: What Does the Future Hold?
by Lois Shaw, PhD and Catherine Hill, PhD (May 2001)

This report documents pension coverage among male and female employees and examines voluntary and involuntary reasons why women and men do not participate in pension plans. The good news is that women are participating in pension plans in greater numbers and, for women working full-time, near equality with men has been achieved. Part-time workers (who are disproportionately women), however, remain much less likely to participate in employer- sponsored pension plans. Less than a third of part-time workers participate in a pension plan. The largest difference in participation between female and male employees occurs for older workers (aged 45-64), with 35 percent of women saying they work too few hours to participate in their company’s plan compared with 20 percent of men. Overall, older female employees are less likely to expect to have a pension in retirement from any source than are older male workers; 36 percent of male employees lack a pension from any employer compared with 44 percent of female employees.

#E507, 20 pages
$10.00
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The Gender Gap in Pension Coverage: Women Working Full-Time Are Catching Up, But Part-Time Workers Have Been Left Behind
by Lois Shaw, Ph.D., and Catherine Hill, Ph.D. (March 2001)

The good news is that women are participating in pension plans in greater numbers than ever before. Based on data from the Pension Topical Module of the Survey of Income and Program Participation collected in 1995 by the Bureau of Census, IWPR found that 60 percent of full-time female workers participate in a pension plan, compared with 62 percent of full-time male workers. But bad news still abounds.

#E506, Research-in-Brief, 3 pages
$5.00
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New and Stronger Remedies Are Needed to Reduce Gender Based Wage Discrimination
by Heidi Hartmann (June 2000)

Testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Part of a hearing on Examining Gender-Based Wage Discrimination. Reviews scholarly literature and cites IWPR research to argue that pay equity remedies are needed to reduce the gender wage gap. Eliminating wage discrimination against women could reduce family poverty by one half.

 

The Gender Wage Gap Earnings Ratio Between Women and Men Employed Full-Time, Year-Round, 1997
by April Shaw (January 2000)

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s ongoing research project The Status of Women in the States measures women’s status in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. One component of this project is the calculation of the gender wage gap. This table presents the results of this state-by-state calculation.

#C348W, Fact Sheet, 1 page
$5.00
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Why Increase the Minimum Wage?
by Heidi Hartmann (October 1999)

Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Educatoin and the Workforce. Argues that increasing the federal minimum wage and benefit levels in accordance with cost of living increases will reduce poverty of women and their families. Available by mail in limited quantities. E-mail iwpr [at] iwpr [dot] org to place an order.

 

Equal Pay for Working Families
by (May 1999)

(Based on IWPR Report, Equal Pay for Working Families, by Heidi Hartmann, PhD, Katherine Allen, and Christine Owens)

 
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How Women Can Earn a Living Wage: The Effects of Pay Equity Remedies and a Higher Minimum Wage
by IWPR (April 1997)

Summarizes research by economists Deborah Figart and June Lapidus showing that both comparable worth and a higher minimum wage would reduce poverty consideably among low-income working women and their families.

 
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The Wage Gap: Women's and Men's Earnings
by Lois Shaw, Melinda Gish, Jill Braunstein, Sarah Allore, and Jodi Burns (January 1997)

 

Restructuring Work: How Have Women and Minority Managers Fared?
by (January 1995)

Have the employment opportunities of women and minorities been negatively impacted as a result of corporate and industrial restructuring? A new Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) study, The Impact of the Glass Ceiling and Structural Change on Minorities and Women examines how changes in the workplace in the 1970s and 1980s affected women and minority men.

 
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Pay Equity and the Wage Gap: Success in the States
by (January 1995)

By 1989, twenty states had implemented programs to raise the wages of workers in female-dominated jobs in their state civil services. According to a joint Institute for Women's Policy Research and Urban Institute study, of the fourteen states for which information was available, all succeeded in increasing the female/male wage ratio in their civil service. Statistical analysis of wages and employment in three states indicates that these adjustments were implemented without substantial negative side effects such as increased unemployment. These findings suggest that pay equity is an effective means of raising women's wages to levels that reduce the impact of discrimination or devaluation. This fact sheet answers many common questions about the wage gap and pay equity based on findings from this study. The data analyzed in the study were collected over a four-year period from the relevant state agencies.

 
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Pay Equity as a Remedy for Wage Discrimination: Success in State Governments
by Heidi Hartmann, Stephanie Aaronson (July 1994)

Testimony concerning the Fair Pay Act of 1994 before the Subcommittee on Select Education and Civil Rights, U.S. House of Representatives Based on findings from teh project The Economic Effects of Pay Equity in the STates. Argues that teh Fair Pay Act would be an effective way to raise women's wages to a level comparable to men's.

 

Exploring the Characteristics of Self-Employment and Part-Time Work Among Women
by (May 1993)

The quality of jobs created during the 1980s-- and whether these were "good" jobs or "bad" jobs-- has been the source of a highly charged debate. The quality of jobs is of increasing importance to women as their financial responsibility for themselves and their families has grown, and they have been seeking employment opportunities at increasing rates. Between 1970 and 1990 the labor force participation rates of mothers increased from about 40 percent to 67 percent, so that by 1990, 22 million mothers were in the labor force. Six million of these women workers were single parents. Because of family responsibilities, and for other reasons, such as requiring more education, many women may seek alternative, more flexible employment, both in part-time work and self-employment. As a result, the caliber of part-time jobs, self-employment, and other alternative forms of employment available to women workers in a pressing topic for research.

 
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