Washington, DC–

According to new


by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), women earn less than men in nearly all of the 114 most common occupations. Women’s wages are lower than men’s even in occupations dominated by men and women have the worst earnings compared to men in sales occupations, such as insurance and retail sales.

Occupations dominated by women provide lower earnings: Four of the ten most common occupations for women, ‘maids and housekeeping cleaners, ‘waitresses,’ ‘cashiers and ‘nursing, psychiatric and home health aides,’ have median earnings for a full-time week of work that are insufficient to lift a family of four out of poverty. Women are more than twice as likely as men to work in occupations with poverty wages.

“The most common occupations for women show how far women have come, with good earnings in many occupations,” said Dr. Heidi Hartmann, President of IWPR. “But they also show the desperate, and all too common, problem of low pay for many women.”

Women ‘insurance sales agents’ face the largest gender wage gap; women’s median weekly earnings of $641 are only 64.3 percent of men’s median weekly earnings of $1026. ‘Retails sales persons,’ among the twenty largest occupations for both women and men, have an earnings ratio for women of 64.3 percent. Latina women’s median earnings in sales occupations are only 45.5 percent of white men’s earnings, the group with the highest median earnings in all sales occupations.

“Year after year, it is occupations with high commission payments that do worst for women,” said Ariane Hegewisch, IWPR Study Director. “Given lack of pay transparency, we have to rely on lawsuit evidence showing that women are not less likely to work hard in these jobs, but are less likely to be given the higher earning accounts or work in the big buck sales departments.”


fact sheet

is updated


by IWPR and provides median earnings for the twenty largest occupations for women and men and distributions across occupational groups by gender and race, based on weekly earnings data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Current Population Survey.


The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)

is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.