Data Bank

The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap

A Persistent Inequity

Over half a century after pay discrimination became illegal in the United States, a persistent pay gap between men and women continues to hurt our nation’s workers and our national economy.

Women working full time in the U.S. are still paid just 83 cents to every dollar earned by men — and the consequences of this gap affect women throughout their lives. The pay gap even follows women into retirement: As a result of lower lifetime earnings, they receive less in Social Security and pensions. In terms of overall retirement income, women have only 70% of what men do.

Pay equity will remain an AAUW priority until the gap is fully eliminated. We hope this latest edition of The Simple Truth motivates and empowers you to join us in this cause.

Systemic Racism and The Gender Pay Gap

The history of the gender and racial wage gaps is inextricably linked to the history of labor in America. From depriving Black women of wages under slavery and its aftermath, to creating lasting disparities in health, education and opportunity for Native women through land theft, to the legal and cultural limitations on women’s ability to earn money, our nation’s story is replete with discrimination and its consequences.

Race and the Pay Gap

The gender pay gap is the result of many factors, including race and ethnicity, disability, access to education and age. As a result, different groups of women experience very different gaps in pay. The gender pay gap is a complex issue that will require robust and inclusive solutions.

Note: The most recent data available for all racial groups was collected in 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the collection of 2020 data. 

Employer practices — such as using prior salary history in setting current pay and prohibiting employees from discussing their wages — compound the problem.

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