Despite Increased Labor Force Participation Among Women, Gender Wage Gap Persists, Even in the Occupations They Dominate

Press Release

Men out earn women in nearly every occupation and sector, making the gender pay gap nearly impossible to close

Contact: Lea Woods | 202-785-5100 | woods@iwpr.org

Washington, DC— Women’s median earnings are lower than men’s in nearly all occupations, according to a new IWPR report. In the top 20 most common occupations for women, they earn 14 percent less than their male counterparts in those same jobs.

When race and ethnicity are taken into consideration, the gender wage gap by occupation is even wider.

Released annually, the IWPR report provides a snapshot of the median weekly earnings for the most common occupations held by men women and men. The occupation with the largest gender wage gap is financial managers; women’s 2019 median weekly earnings for full-time work in this occupation were just 63.6 percent of those of men’s, a gender wage gap of 36.4 percent, resulting in a median earnings loss of $35,880 annually. But even among nurses—an occupation where women are most of the workforce—men working full-time have higher weekly earnings than women.

Top 5 occupations with biggest gender wage gap

  1. Financial Mangers (63.6%)
  2. Retail Salesperson (71.7%)
  3. Managers, all others (76.3%)
  4. Teacher Assistants (81.0)
  5. *Chief Executives (80.5)
  6. *Accountants and Auditors (80.4)

By race and ethnicity, women of color earn less than their male counterparts in management, business, and financial operations occupations. In these occupations, Black women earn 82.7 percent of Black men’s earnings but only 67 percent of White men’s earnings.

The median weekly earnings of Hispanic women who work full-time in ‘service’ occupations are just $12 above the poverty threshold for a family of four. One in four Hispanic women work full-time in such jobs.

Progress in closing the gender wage gap has slowed down dramatically compared to earlier decades. At the current rate of change, it will take until 2059 for women and men to reach earning parity, and substantially longer for women of color: Black women’s median annual earnings would reach parity with White men by 2130 and Hispanic women by 2224.

“Closing the gender wage gap is critical to alleviating poverty and improving the economic security of working women and their families,” said C. Nicole Mason, Ph.D., President and CEO of IWPR. “It would also be a boon for the economy. We can do more to accelerate the closing of the gender wage gap through sound public policies, employer education and training, and challenging the culture that doesn’t value women’s contribution to the workforce.”

“If women and men were paid equally for equal work[1], nearly 60 percent of women would see a pay increase, including almost two-thirds of single mothers, and the number of working women in poverty would be halved,” said Mason.

About the Institute for Women’s Policy Research

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences.

[1] Men who work the same number of hours, are the same age, same education, urban/rural status and live in the same region of the country.