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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.



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

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The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978: A Ten Year Progress Report
by Roberta Spalter-Roth, Ph.D, Claudia Withers, and Sheila Gibbs (September 1992)

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Women in Telecommunications: Exception to the Rule of Low Pay for Women's Work
by Roberta Spalter-Roth and Heidi Hartmann (May 1992)

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Increasing Working Mother's Earnings: The Importance of Race, Family, and Job Characteristics
by Heidi I. Hartmann, Ph.D, Roberta M. Spalter-Roth, Ph.D (January 1992)

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Increasing Working Mother's Earnings
by Roberta Spalter-Roth, Ph.D, and Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D (November 1991)

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Improving Women's Status in the Workforce: The Family Issue of the Future
by Roberta Spalter-Roth, Heidi Hartmann (July 1991)

Testimony before the Subcommittee on Employment and Productivity, Committee on Labor and Human Resources, U.S. Senate. Presentation of research findings to dispel the "Myth of the Drop-Out Mom". Argues women's wages are becoming more, not less, important for families and provides policy strategies to help improve women's labor froce status and earnings.

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Improving Employment Opportunities for Women
by Heidi Hartmann, Roberta Spalter-Roth (February 1991)

Testimony on H.R. 1 Civil Rights Act of 1991, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor. Describes the importance of women's earnings for family survival, the continued existence of wage and job discrimination, and the effectiveness of civil rights and anti-discrimination policies. Argues that ensuring equal employment opportunities for all workers is needed to strengthen the economy.

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Women in Telecommunications: An Exception to the Rule
by Heidi Hartmann and Roberta Spalter-Roth (April 1990)

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Recent Wage Developments in Telecommunications: An Example from the Northeast
by Roberta Spalter-Roth, Heidi Hartmann, and Linda Andrews (August 1989)

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