Greater Earnings Equality is Essential to Reducing Poverty and Improving Economic Security for Women and their Families

Contact: Lea Woods | 202-785-5100 |

Washington, DC— Progress in closing the gender earnings gap between women and men has slowed considerably in the last decade, according to a new report from IWPR. While the gap has narrowed since weekly data was first collected in 1979, from 62.3 percent to 81.5 percent now – most of that progress was made in the 1980s and 90s. In the last ten years (2010 -19), the weekly gender gap narrowed by less than a half a percentage point, compared with 3.4 percent in the previous ten years (2000-09), 4.7 percent between 1990 and 1999, and 5.8 percent in the 10 years prior to that (1980-89).

“Closing the wage gap is essential to reducing poverty and improving economic security for women and their families,” said C. Nicole Mason, PhD, President and CEO of IWPR. “This rate of change is unacceptable. It is particularly unacceptable for the many women of color who face even larger earning losses each week.”

Both earnings ratios are for full-time workers only. When all workers with earnings are included, the gap in earnings is much larger because women are more likely than men to work part-time or take time out of paid work to manage childrearing and other caregiving work. Over a 15-year period women workers’ earnings were just 49 percent of men’s.

Mason adds, “This is Woman’s History Month- let’s learn from history. In the 1980s and 1990s there was more emphasis on enforcement, and on improving women’s share of good jobs. A lot of progress was made, particularly for White women. Let’s return to a time when policies to tackle women’s inequality at work were arguably more of a priority.”