New analysis finds that almost 3 times as many women as men work in occupations with poverty-level wages

Washington, DC—Female personal financial advisors make little more than half (56.4 percent) of what their male counterparts make, facing the widest wage gap (44.4 percent) across all occupations, according to a new analysis of the gender wage gap released today, Equal Pay Day, by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).

“The wage gap in financial services is striking. Each week, women financial advisors on average make $760 less than their male colleagues. It is ironic that an industry focused on helping people achieve financial security is—year after year—substantially shortchanging women,” said IWPR Program Director for Employment & Earnings Ariane Hegewisch.

There are 4.6 million women who work in occupations with poverty-level wages, nearly three times as many as the 1.5 million men who do. In addition, the analysis finds racial disparities compounding gender inequality in the labor market. Black and Hispanic women are more than twice as likely to work in service occupations as White women. The median weekly earnings of Hispanic women are lower than the federal poverty threshold for a family of four in three occupational groups that altogether employ nearly two in five Hispanic women full-time. (Service; natural resources, construction, and maintenance; and production, transportation, and material moving occupations employ 38.5 percent of working Hispanic women.)

Women in the vast majority of occupations—107 of 120—earn at least five cents less on the dollar than men working full-time in the same occupation, regardless of 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.

“There is almost no place in the US labor market that doesn’t have a gender wage gap,” Hegewisch said. “Women in higher paying jobs earn more than other women, but face the widest wage gaps. For women clustered in jobs with low pay, particularly women of color, the wage gap is smaller, but is of little comfort because of the very low overall earnings.”

In addition to a wage gap within occupations, there is also a wage gap between occupations. Previous IWPR analysis has found that more than one in four employed women in the United States are concentrated in low-wage “women’s work”—such as teaching young children, cleaning, serving, and caring for elders. Workers in these majority-female jobs, who are disproportionately women of color, earn less than men working in jobs that need similar levels of education, skills, and stamina. More than half (52.3 percent) of workers in low-wage, “women’s work” fields have education beyond a high school diploma, compared with only 38 percent of workers in all other low-wage jobs. Yet, workers in female-majority, low-wage jobs—4 in 5 of whom are women—make $11.30 per hour on average, while workers in all other low-wage jobs—one in three of whom are women—make $0.51 more per hour.

“There is no question that the work women do is undervalued in the U.S. labor market,” said IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. “Women have invested time and money into improving their skills and education, but they cannot close the wage gap on their own. Policymakers and employers must do more to raise wages, improve access to good jobs, and provide family-friendly benefits if we are to get the rest of the way to equal pay.”

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.