Pay Gap FAQs

Myths and misinformation about the pay gap abound. These answers will give you the straight facts.

Simply put, the gender pay gap is the gap between what women are paid and what men are paid.

In 2022, the most recent year for which the federal government has released data, in this broad category women were paid 16% less than what men were paid. Put another way, women working full time, year-round were paid 84 cents per dollar than men working full time, year-round were paid. When you look at all working women (including part-time and seasonal), the gap is even wider with women being paid only paid 78 cents for every dollar paid to men.

There are as many ways to calculate gender pay gaps as there are ways to calculate average pay earned by workers, as long as the original data source records whether workers are men or women. Researchers have calculated gender pay gaps that:

  • Include only full-time workers.
  • Include both full-time and part-time workers.
  • Compare average earnings over the course of a year, over the course of a week, hourly or over the course of a career.
  • Compare workers within only a particular state or other geographical area.
  • compare workers within a particular industry or specific occupation.
  • Look only at a particular subgroup, such as black or Hispanic workers.
  • Consider only workers with or without disabilities.
  • Look at the gender pay gap by education level.
  • Include some combination of all of these factors.

Though the ratio of women’s pay to men’s varies depending on the data source and analysis, the finding that women are paid less than men is extremely consistent. (For more detail and many of these breakdowns, see AAUW’s The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap.)

The statistic for the pay gap between all women working full-time, year-round and all men working full-time, year-round is the most commonly used gender pay gap statistic and usually receives the most attention.

But research tells us there are many factors contributing to the size of the gender pay gap, including:

  • Fewer hours worked because of time spent on domestic work and care work.
  • Reduced job tenure resulting from breaks in labor-force participation to raise children.
  • Gender segregation by occupation and industry.
  • Bias against women in leadership.

And that’s just to name a few. Along with overt pay discrimination, these factors add up to a gap that has a big effect on women’s economic status: more than $10,000 less in pay annually for full-time working women than men are paid.

Lower pay is the reality for working women in the United States, regardless of the contributing factors. It is a reflection of women having less power in the workplace and jobs with less prestige, and it contributes to higher poverty rates for women and their children and less money for women in retirement. The struggles facing women in our economy are complex, but the simple statistic comparing the median annual pay of women and men who work full time is an important starting point in understanding the economic status of women.

The gender pay gap is math, not myth. Women working full time, year-round take home 16% less pay than men working full time, year-round. This is a government-published statistic based on a large, detailed, nationally representative survey of income in the United States, the Annual Social and Economic Supplements of the Current Population Survey. In 2022, the typical woman working full time, year-round was paid around $10,000 less than the typical man working the same hours.