Woman and child reading

Washington, DC—


of National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) data by the

Institute for Women’s Policy Research

(IWPR) reveals that men with low literacy levels earn more than women with low literacy levels. Women at all levels of literacy tend to have lower wages than comparable men, but the gender wage gap is most noticeable between men and women of low literacy levels.

Men with low literacy are nearly twice as likely as women at the same literacy level to have weekly earnings above $650. Women with low literacy are twice as likely as men at that skill level to be in the lowest earnings category of $300 a week or less.  Even women with higher levels of literacy earn less than men on average—overall, women

earn 77 cents for every dollar

a man earns according to IWPR research.

“Women trying to support themselves and their families need to obtain even higher levels of literacy, education, and job skills in order to make the same amount of money as men,” said Jane Henrici, Ph.D., Study Director at IWPR and co-author of the fact sheet on literacy.

About one-third of American adults have low levels of literacy (36.4 percent of men and 33.3 percent of women). Basic adult education, remedial and bridge programs, and other methods that help Americans can help to advance the nation’s workforce and to enable workers to earn sustaining wages.

“Low literacy doesn’t discriminate—both men and women need programs like adult and basic education to help them gain the skills that lead to family-sustaining wages—but the gender wage gap means that women start a step behind,” said Kevin Miller, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate at IWPR and co-author of the fact sheet.


About the

Institute for Women’s Policy Research

IWPR conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies. IWPR is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that also works in affiliation with the women’s studies and public policy programs at The George Washington University.