Women’s Pay Inequality: Key 2023 Wage Gap Statistics

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Across the world, inequality and gender-based discrimination impact women —  in every aspect of life. Many women face discrimination in the workforce, which also translates to their income.

In every measurable way, income inequality has continued to grow over the last three decades, and women of all races have had to face the consequences. To learn more about the scope of the problem, here are the latest gender pay gap statistics.

Topics covered

Main causes for the wage gap

Wage gap by history & region

Wage gap by career & education

Wage gap by race & age

Key highlights

  • On average, American women earn 83 cents for every dollar a white man earns
  • Gender-based discrimination is the main cause behind the wage gap
  • Using 2022 wages, the average working woman will miss out on $406,280 during a 40-year career
  • Washington D.C. has the lowest wage gap across America
  • There are signs of a wage gap in 98% of jobs
  • Women of color, disabled women and older women are most affected by the wage gap 
  • Going by the current rate of progress, it will take more than 257 years to reach wage equity 

Equal pay in perspective

While gender discrimination is not exclusive to women, reports show that 42% of women say they’ve experienced gender discrimination at work compared to 22% of men.

Women who are full-time employees in the U.S. lose nearly $930 billion in total per year due to the wage gap.

  • Women in the U.S. earn 83 cents for every dollar earned by a man

  • 34 Million U.S households are led by women

  • The wage gap remains at 83%, meaning women earn 17% less than men on average

  • Only 30% of women say their employers pay them fairly

Each year around 40% of families with children under 18 will have mothers as the breadwinners, and around 70% of women will end up being primary earners for their families in the first 18 years of their motherhood.

For median weekly earnings, mothers with children under 18 tend to have a higher income ($909) than women without children under 18 ($882).

  • Women’s hourly wages are 17% lower than those earned by men

  • Globally, women earn 77 cents for each dollar a man earns

  • 58% of women report facing gender or racial barriers at work

  • Six million female-led households have children under age 18

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 1.1 million fewer women in the workforce in February 2022 than compared to the same period in 2020.

2020 data on the wage gap between men and women, by median earnings

The wage gap’s main causes

At first glance, one might think that higher education levels for men are partially to blame for the wage gap, But statistics show that has not been the case for the last two decades.

Some of the more common causes for the wage gap are as follows

  • Workplace discrimination and pay secrecy policies
  • Overrepresentation in low-paid jobs and devalued work
  • Caregiver discrimination and motherhood penalties

Women who are caregivers for young children or elderly relatives tend to need more time off work, whether it’s sick days, paid time off (PTO) or unpaid leave. On average full-time working mothers earn less than full-time working fathers.

Wage gap by history and region

While the gender pay gap has been reduced since the Equal Pay Act became federal law, the progress has been slow.

When the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed by President Kennedy, women were paid 59 cents for every dollar men made. Over the last 25 years, the gap has been narrowed, but only by an average of 8 cents. Significant progress is still needed to address the gap.

Increase in median earnings for women from 1979 to 2019

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If the current wage gap stands, the average working woman will lose about $406,280 during the span of a 40-year career.

Predictions show that men in the U.S. will earn approximately $10,381 more than women by the end of 2022. All 50 U.S. states have a lower median wage than men. Washington D.C. is the only exception.

Washington D.C has the highest median wage for women, and also the smallest wage gap across the nation at 8.1%. Among states, Vermont has the smallest pay gap, at 10%.

On the other side of the spectrum, Wyoming has the largest wage gap. Women in Wyoming earn 35% less than men. Mississippi has the lowest median earnings for women, at $34,279.

States with the highest and lowest wage gap

Wage gap by occupation

One of the biggest factors that contributes to the wage gap is that more often than not, women work in such industries as education, health care and the service industry.

These industries generally pay less than male-dominated industries, which are usually centered around industries like science, technology and finance.

Reports show that the gap in pay between men and women exists in 98% of all occupations. And when women enter a specific male-dominated industry en masse, the average salary for those positions drops.

Men comprise the majority of top earners in companies across the country despite the fact that women already take part in the workforce with almost 50%.

In the top 10% of earners, women are represented with just 27%.

This percentage decreases in even higher income groups. For example, women account for less than 17% of the top 1% of earners. In the top 0.1%, that number drops to 11%.

Wage gap by education

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Jobs with a pay-gap favoring women

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Compliance officer
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Graphic designer
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Lab technician
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Insurance claims
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Policy processing clerk

Median earnings by occupation

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A controlled pay gap is different because it takes into consideration factors like positions, experience, differences in industries and regions.

Taking these factors into account, women still earn about 98% of what men earn for the same job in which they have the same position and qualifications, with gender being the only difference.

Black women experience the problem on a bigger scale, earning only 97 cents for each dollar earned by white men. As for the uncontrolled wage gap, they only earn 64 cents for each dollar.

Women earn less than men at every job level on the corporate ladder. However, the higher women climb, the more the pay gap widens. Women in executive positions make 95 cents for every dollar men make in the same roles. This is a staggering difference for a controlled wage gap.

Wage gap by age and race

Race impacts the finances of all people in the U.S., and women of color face the consequences of discrimination more than their male counterparts. This disparity stretches to disabled women as well, who earn just 80 cents for each dollar earned by disabled men.

Income lost by women over a 40-year career due to the wage gap

$24,110 Annual income loss for Black women due to the wage gap $29,098 Annual income loss for Latinas due to the wage gap

Made with Flourish $24,656 Annual income loss for Native American women due to the wage gap $8,401 Annual income loss for Asian women due to the wage gap

Women’s income in comparison to men by age group

  • Women’s Income in their 20s by percentage


  • Women’s Income in their 30s by percentage


  • Women’s Income in their 40s by percentage


  • Women’s Income in their 50s by percentage


The wage gap is amplified for older women, who see a similar gap in their retirement savings due to less income earned during their working years.

Despite making up 7.4% of the U.S. population and having the highest labor force participation among all women for years, just 4.4% and 1.4% of Black women hold management and C-suite positions, respectively. To better understand the situation, for every 100 White men promoted, only 58 Black women are promoted.

The road to progress

While progress appears to be continuing toward equality, the World Economic Forum (WEF) says that at the current rate, it will take about 257 years to achieve global wage equity,

Reports from 2021 show that while roughly 90% of companies make sure to track female representation in the workplace, only 65% of them track the gender differences and possible biases in promotion rates.

By eliminating the gender wage gap, on average, American women would have:

  • 13 more months of childcare payments

  • One more year of tuition for a four-year public university

  • Seven more months of health insurance contributions

  • 74 weeks — or more than a year’s worth — of food

  • 6 months of mortgage and utility payments

  • 9 months of rent payments

  • 8.6 years of birth control expenses

  • Enough money to pay back many student loans in under four years

About 32% of women said they looked for other job opportunities once they learned a wage gap was present at their current place of employment.

Surveys show that 58% of female employees would leave their current position for a job that offers better pay transparency.

Overall improvement in health

Less domestic violence

Reduced poverty rate by 50%

$500B more in the U.S economy

What can be done to eliminate the gender pay gap?

The key first steps are to increase pay transparency, end to occupational segregation based on gender roles, give women more access to paid leave and child care and encourage unionization.


Bureau of Labor Statistics UN Women  OECD Forbes NationalPartnership  Inequality.org  NWLC Business.org

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