AAUW Issues: Gender Pay Gap
The American Association of University Women believes that pay equity and equal opportunity are a matter of simple fairness. AAUW is a leader in the fight to end wage discrimination and open doors for women in the workplace.
Additional AAUW Resources
Download Printable Quick Facts on the Gender Pay Gap
- The Gender Pay Gap by State and Congressional District
- Research: Graduating to a Pay Gap
- Pay Equity and Workplace Opportunity: A Simple Matter of Fairness
- Research: The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap
Job creation and economic opportunity are critical issues for women, many of whom continue to struggle with economic insecurity and wage discrimination.
Despite civil rights laws and advancements in women’s economic status, workplace discrimination still persists. On average, women who work full-time earn about 77 cents for every dollar a full-time male worker earns. Because of the wage gap, since 1960, the real median earnings of women have fallen short by more than half a million dollars compared to men.
A recent AAUW report – Graduating to a Pay Gap – found an unexplainable seven percent difference in the earnings of male and female college graduates one year after graduation, even after accounting for many factors including college major, occupation, industry, sector, hours worked, workplace flexibility, experience, educational attainment, enrollment status, GPA, college selectivity, age, race/ethnicity, region, marital status, and motherhood. Clearly, the wage gap persists.
The wage gap persists across all racial and ethnic groups, and it is found in every state. Among full-time workers in 2011, Hispanic, Latina, and African American women had significantly lower weekly median earnings compared with white and Asian American women.
The wage gap has real consequences. Recent research has found that 40 percent of households with children include a mother who is either the sole or primary earner for her family. Pay equity is not just a matter of fairness, but the key to families making ends meet.
Wage discrimination also limits women’s choices. It impairs their ability to buy homes and pay for a college education, and limits their total lifetime earnings, thereby reducing their retirement savings and benefits.
Closing the Gap
There are many avenues to address pay inequity:
Paycheck Fairness Act: The PFA (S.84/H.R.377) would expand the scope of the Equal Pay Act with incentives for employers to follow the law, strengthen penalties for violations, enhance federal efforts, and prohibit retaliation against workers asking about wage practices.
Fair Pay Act: The Fair Pay Act (S.168/H.R.438) would require employers to provide equal pay for work of equal value, whether or not the jobs are the same. This legislation addresses equal pay for women working in female-dominated jobs equivalent to jobs traditionally dominated by men. The legislation would ban retaliation, require employers to file wage information with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, eliminate the “gag rule” on wage disclosure, and prohibit employers from reducing wages to comply with pay equity requirements.
There are additional remedies that can come from the executive branch. These include:
- Issuing guidance on the permissibility of gender-based affirmative action.
- Ensuring adequate enforcement of all civil rights laws through sufficient funding and staffing of civil rights enforcement agencies. Special attention should be given to pregnancy and caregiving discrimination—areas where claims are on the rise.
- Directing employers to collect information including the race, sex, and national origin of employees.
- Reinstating the Equal Opportunity Survey, which requires federal contractors to submit data on their employment practices.
- Issuing an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from punishing workers who talk about wages with their co-workers.