Pay Equity and Women's Wage Increases: Success in the States, A Model for the Nation

Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Stephanie Aaronson

October 1, 1994
  • ISBN:
  • ID: #C331

Published in the Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy

By 1989, twenty states had implemented programs to raise the wages of workers in female-dominated job classes in their state civil services. A study of these pay equity programs, conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the Urban Institute, found that all twenty states were successful in closing the female/male wage gap without substantial negative side effects such as increased unemployment. The extent to which the states succeeded depended on many factors including how much money was spent, the proportion of women affected, and the standard to which female wages were raised. As women’s responsibilities for their families’ wellbeing increase, it is important to explore policies to raise women’s wages to levels that are free from discrimination or cultural devaluation. An American woman working full-time year-round in 1992 earned only 71 percent as much as her male counterpart.