Native Women and the Pay Gap

A Native American woman in a hoodie and black top. Photo courtesy of Obi Onyeador for Unsplash.
Photo by Obi Onyeador for Unsplash


According to U.S. Census Bureau data, when you look at all Native women earners (including seasonal and part-time workers), Native women were paid, on average, 55% of what non-Hispanic white men were paid in 2022. Native American women working full-time, year-round only make, on average, 59 cents on the dollar as compared to non-Hispanic white men. These shocking statistics are one of the most significant wage disparities in the United States. If you break it down by Tribal nation, some Native American women are paid even less.

On Thursday, November 30, 2023—this year’s Native Women’s Equal Pay Day—and every day, we invite you to join AAUW in advocating for real change. You can start by demanding more #EquityForNativeWomen and #NativeWomensEqualPay on social media.

Join the Tweetstorm at 2 p.m. ET November 30.

Native women are the backbone of Native communities. They are primary caregivers and nurturers of culture, tradition, and future generations. Despite their contributions, the earnings ratio for Native women stagnated in the past decade, leaving Native women routinely underpaid and undercompensated for their work.

This pay gap is underscored by hundreds of years of racism, genocide, and forced migrations, as well as continuing threats to tribal sovereignty, which have led to Native communities grappling every day with the tangible consequences of how our country has systematically devalued women of color and their labor.

Native women in the United States face high rates of unemployment, poverty, and violence as well as limited access to health care and child care. More than half of Native women are the sole or primary breadwinners for their families, yet they are overrepresented in low-paying jobs and lack strong work-family policy supports. Nearly 4 in 5 Native women will experience violence in their lifetime. These historic barriers to economic security are compounded when it comes to pay.

There is some good news. Native American women are going to college and holding jobs at higher rates than ever before. Native women have made important advances socially and politically, getting elected to public office, including Congress and holding key roles in the Biden-Harris Administration. And while education and good jobs help increase earnings—they don’t eliminate the wage gap.

U.S. government survey data contain less information about smaller population groups. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 8.5 million people identified as American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more other races in 2022, about 2.5% of the U.S. population.

AAUW continues to advocate for improved data collection, strong pay equity legislation, including the Paycheck Fairness Act, and full enforcement of our current laws to protect employees and assist employers in eliminating the pay gap. We also support caregiving and workplace support policies that center the needs of Native women such as paid family and medical leave.