30+ Gender Pay Gap Statistics You Should Know

Plus wage gaps by demographic and geography.
Content Marketer
January 22, 2020
Updated: June 29, 2022
Content Marketer
January 22, 2020
Updated: June 29, 2022

The gender pay gap is both complicated and wildly controversial. There are a lot of things to take into consideration when talking about what the wage gap is and why it exists. For the purpose of this article, we’re sticking to the facts. We’ll delve into the different types of wage gaps that affect diverse people in a wide range of settings and circumstances. 

Note that when we talk about women and men in broad terms, we’re considering the average of either gender regardless of race, ethnicity or other demographics. There are stark differences in the gender pay gap by demographics that we will cover later in the article. 


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Table of Contents



Controlled vs. Uncontrolled Gender Pay Gap

First things first, there is not a single gender pay gap — there are many that we'll cover in this article. In order to understand what the gender pay gaps mean, and how the numbers come to fruition, it's important know that there are two distinct methods used for calculating gender pay gaps — controlled and uncontrolled


Image via PayScale


Uncontrolled Gender Pay Gap

The uncontrolled or unadjusted gender pay gap is calculated by taking the ratio of median earnings of all women to all men, regardless of industry, skill level, education or any other type of diverse demographic that can affect an individual's income. 

The uncontrolled gender pay gap has made national headlines because as of 2019, women only make $0.79 for every dollar men make. While that is a startling statistic, it’s important to note that women are also, unfortunately, less likely to hold more senior roles with higher salaries than men. There are also differences in opportunities and barriers that limit certain demographics from advancing in their career, which is called the opportunity gap. 


Calculating Uncontrolled Gender Pay Gap

  • Median earning of women : Median earning of men
  • *Does not include factors that contribute to the opportunity gap


Controlled Gender Pay Gap

The controlled or adjusted gender pay gap, on the other hand, takes into account factors that differ between men and women in the workplace. Such factors include job title, experience level, industry and location. While there are a number of additional factors that affect an individual’s opportunity and privilege in the workforce, this calculation is much more accurate in comparing the differences in pay among men and women in similar jobs. 

The controlled gender pay gap, which is much less talked about, is actually only about $0.02, meaning women make about $0.98 for every dollar a man makes. While this calculation accounts for some aspects of the opportunity gap, there are a number of factors, like race and ethnicity, that are not accounted for in either calculation, and we will look more closely at discrepancies in pay gaps among different demographics in a bit. 


Calculating Controlled Gender Pay Gap

  • Median earning of women within a specific industry, job title, experience level and location : Median earning of men within the same industry, job title, experience level and location
  • *Includes factors that contribute to the opportunity gap, such as job title, experience level, industry and location.


Evolution of the Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap is constantly in flux but continues to progress over time. Let's take a look at how the gender pay gap has evolved over the years, where it stands now and what predictions have been made about the future state of gender pay equality in the workplace.  


History of the Gender Pay Gap

Over the past 60 years, the gender pay gap has been steadily improving— slowly...but steadily. Back in the 1960s, women earned between 55-60% in median annual earnings compared to men, whereas between 2010-2015, that number has increased to between 77-80%, as depicted in the graph below.* However, that's still more than 50 years of women earning at best $0.80 to every $1.00 men earn.  

Image via AAUW

*Click to interact with this graph from AAUW


Current State of the Gender Pay Gap

Over the past five years, the pay gap has continued to decline, and between 2015-2019, the uncontrolled gender pay gap improve by $0.05; women went from earning  $0.74 to $0.79 for every dollar men earned. At the same time, the controlled gender pay gap improved to $0.98 for every dollar a man earned, compared to $0.97 in 2015.


Image via PayScale

*Click to interact with this graph from PayScale


Future State of the Gender Pay Gap

While men and women are inching toward equal pay for the same roles, there is still a lot of work to do in terms of women breaking into male-dominated industries and busting through barriers, like the glass ceiling. 

And while improvements are made year over year, the predictions for when equal pay will be achieved is between 15 years (optimistically) to 50 years (conservatively).


Image via Glassdoor



Factors That Contribute to the Gender Pay Gap

As a recruiter, it's to your benefit and a moral obligation to understand the factors that contribute to the gender pay gap, especially within the industry you work. There are a number of areas in which you can make an impact on pay gaps within your company and industry, and it all starts with becoming aware of disparities.

From there, you can tailor your recruitment marketing efforts and set recruiting goals that target more diverse candidates who may not commonly gravitate toward your open roles, company or industry. Let’s start with differences in educational preferences and opportunities that affect people who are early in their career or changing careers. 


Disparities in higher education

Image via Shutterstock

When hiring candidates early in their career or even right out of school, consider that men and women show slightly different preferences in bachelor’s degrees. For many people who are willing and able to attend college, what they study plays a significant role in the career they intend to pursue after graduation. Such differences in degrees influence career trajectories and therefore different income trajectories. 

While college degrees are certainly helpful tools for advancing academic knowledge base before entering into full-time career, it shouldn’t be a major factor employers consider when reviewing job applicants.

First of all, only 61% of the U.S. population completes a two- or four-year college degree. By requiring candidates to attain a college degree to even apply, you’re eliminating nearly 40% of the population — many of which simply don’t have the opportunity or money to afford the exorbitant cost of higher education in America.

As a recruiter, you’re always trying to find ways to improve your candidate pool and create a more efficient recruitment process, however, college degrees should not be an indicator of a candidate’s potential. Of the people that spent thousands on a degree, nearly half believe it wasn’t worth it either because they didn’t use their degree in their job (40.4%) or because they couldn’t find a job in the field they studied (28.8%). 

Another contributing factor to the gender pay gap is that men have historically dominated higher education. However, in 2014, for the first time in history, women began attaining more four-year college degrees than men, and that trend continues to persist. While it seems logical that as more women earn college degrees, the gender pay gap will decrease as women will be paid accordingly. However, a U.S. Census Bureau survey from 2017 indicates that is not the case. 


Image via Built In, Information via U.S. Census Bureau


As you can see, there is a huge difference between earnings of men and women regardless of whether they have less than a high school degree or if they achieved a graduate degree. There are other factors that contribute to that pay gap, such as occupational differences and preferences in industry, that we also need to consider. 


Occupational differences in gender

Image via Shutterstock

Even though most people don't pursue a career in their academic field, men and women continue to differ in career preferences. For example, the most common occupations held by women include: secretaries and administrative assistants (93.8%); receptionists and information clerks (91.3%); nursing, psychiatric and home health aides (98.1%); registered nurses (87.8%); maids and housekeeping cleaners (87.6%). 

Whereas the occupations most commonly held by men include: automotive service technicians and mechanics (98.6%); electricians (98%); carpenters (97.9%); construction laborers (96.6%); grounds maintenance workers (95.7%).

As we discovered in the controlled gender pay gap calculation, occupation plays a significant role in differences among men and women. When comparing the top 20 most commonly held roles between men and women, there’s more than a $700 difference in median monthly earnings between men and women ⁠— and this isn’t even taking into consideration differences in managerial and seniority level between male and female employees, which we’ll get to in a bit.

The history of male and female dominated occupations and industries, however, is not entirely parallel. Trends indicate that in recent decades, women have begun shifting into historically male dominated industries. The graph below depicts the biggest changes from 1950 to 2015 among 10 industries, such as bartending, optometry and mail services. 


Image via Flowing Data


As you can see from the graphs above, some of the shifts are more gradual, whereas others are practically instantaneous. For mail services, shoe machine operation and human resources, the change from male dominated industries to becoming female dominated industries happened in just a few short years.

If employers, recruiters and hiring managers make a concerted effort, reducing the gaps between occupation, industry and pay between men, women and underrepresented demographics can happen fairly rapidly.


Discrimination in the workplace

Image via Shutterstock

Another contributing factor of gender pay gap is discrimination in the work place. There’s no doubt that men and women experience work and life differently, including discrimination. Here are just a few ways women experience discrimination in the workplace differently compared to men:

  • 25% of women earn less than a man doing the same job (5% of men)
  • 23% of women are treated as incompetent (6% of men)
  • 16% of women experience microaggressions (5% of men)
  • 15% of women receive less support than men for the same job (7% of men)
  • 10% of women are passed over for key projects (5% of men)
  • 9% of women feel isolated at work (6% of men)
  • 7% of women are denied promotions (5% of men)
  • 7% of women are rejected from jobs (4% of men)

Not only that, but nearly half of people (both men and women) notice a distinct double standard against female job candidates. As if that wasn't bad enough, men are also twice as likely to be chosen for a position — regardless of whether the hiring manager is male or female. Even when women do go into fields and occupations dominated by men, they continue to face challenges and barriers that inhibit their ability to grow in their careers at an equal rate to men.


Barriers to senior level roles

Image via Shutterstock

The barrier to higher level roles female professionals face is commonly referred to as the glass ceiling. In brief, the glass ceiling metaphor refers to the hierarchical impediment that inhibits women, as well as minorities, from reaching elevated professional success. Because women face invisible, but evident barriers to reaching senior and C-suite level roles, they struggle to earn salaries reserved for higher roles. 

The disparities begin with promotions early in career paths with only 79 women being promoted to managerial roles for every 100 men. Most careers are linear, meaning in order to reach senior level roles, you need to first grow into a managerial role.

As you can see in the graph below, there is a significant difference in the percent of men and women in entry level roles compared to executive roles. At entry level, men (both white men and men of color) make up 49% of the workforce compared to 48% of women — split equally.

The rift continues to widen at each level, with men making up 77% of the most senior roles, compared to just 13% of women. And as you can see, the separation is much much more profound for women (and men) of color.


Image via Business Insider


It also does not help that women typically ask for lower salaries and raises less frequently than men; as of 2019, women asked for about 4% less than men, and women ask for lower salaries 61% of the time — a 5% improvement from 2018. Additionally, 69% of women and 71% of men ask for a salary increase from the initial offer, however, women negotiate salary 7% less than men do. 

As a recruiter, HR professional or hiring manager, it’s critical to identify and address diversity imbalance in every aspect of your company. If you have a large number of women in entry level roles but an entire C-suite of men, make an effort to set hiring and promoting goals around boosting diversity throughout your organization. Doing so will make a direct and immediate impact on your company’s gender pay gap.

Unpaid Work Contributing to the Gender Pay Gap

Image via Shutterstock

Just when you think there can’t be many more factors contributing to the gender pay gap, there are. Many women spend a large part of their time outside of the office working. And by working, we don’t mean working from home on tasks related to their paid job, but rather unpaid tasks related to supporting and caring for other people. This is also referred to as invisible labor

One study of 393 married or partnered mothers investigated this invisible labor and found that: 

  • 90% of are solely responsible for coordinating their entire family’s schedule

  • 70% regularly completed and delegated household chores as well as party planned

  • Two-thirds say they are responsible for being “vigilant” of their kids emotions

  • 78% are the parent who knows their kids' teachers and school admins

To account for all of these additional tasks added to women’s plates either by choice or by gendered expectations, Amy Westervelt created an Invisible Labor Calculator to see how much unpaid labor that isn’t accounted for in the gender pay gap but should.

The list of labor tasks include cleaning, childcare, party planning, family errands, landscaping and more. Anyone can use the calculator to see how much money each week should be attributed to the work they do but isn’t. There is a lack of research around exactly how much money women forfeit on average due to unpaid labor. 


Differences in Gender Pay Gap by Demographic

As we've mentioned, the gender pay gap only considers the overall pay gap between men and women. However, other factors, such as race & ethnicity, sexual orientation, age and family status also contribute to where an individual stands on the gender pay gap, all of which we'll cover below. 


Race & ethnicity gender Pay gaps

An even more pressing issue is the continuous, significant disparity in pay between white men and women of color. The gender and racial pay gap is decades behind the overall gender pay gap. Recruiters, however, are in a position to hire and promote women and underrepresented groups in order to expedite these predictions and make the workplace equal and as diverse as the communities it serves. 

Image via PayScale

A recent study by PayScale breaks down the gender pay gap by race and ethnicity as of 2019. Below is a brief overview of the findings, but you can also explore more of the data in each bar graph here

  • Black or African American women $.0.74 (uncontrolled) $0.97 (controlled)

  • American Indian and Alaska Native women $.0.74 (uncontrolled) 

  • Hispanic women $.0.74 (uncontrolled) $0.97 (controlled) $.0.98 (uncontrolled) 

  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander women $.0.79 (uncontrolled) 

  • White women $.0.80 (uncontrolled) $.0.98 (uncontrolled) 

  • Asian women $.0.93 (uncontrolled) $1.02 (uncontrolled)


LGBTQ+ gender Pay gaps

Image via Hired

An individual's sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression may also contribute to their ability to earn equal pay. Hired looked into this and found that for every $1.0 men make:

  • Male LGBTQ+ earn $0.96
  • Female non-LGBTQ+ earn $0.93
  • Female LGBTQ+ earn $0.92


Family status gender Pay gap

Image via Built In, Information via U.S. Census Bureau

An individual's family status may also affect their ability to earn an equal salary. The Ascent gathered data from the U.S. Census Bureau and found, when compared to men with the same family status, women earn:

  • Married women with children under 18 earn 79% of men's weekly earnings
  • Married women with no children under 18 earn 78% of men's weekly earnings
  • Unmarried women (or no spouse present) with children earn 82% of men's weekly earnings
  • Unmarried women (or no spouse present) with no children earn 94% of men's weekly earnings


Age gender Pay gaps

Image via Hired

The gender pay gap is also found to vary by age. Hired completed a study that found how much women make compared to every $1.00 men make at different ages, and found:

  • $0.97 for women age 20-25
  • $0.97 for women age 26-30
  • $0.95 for women age 31-35
  • $0.94 for women age 36-40
  • $0.93 for women age 41-45
  • $0.87 for women age 46-50


Differences in Gender Pay Gap by Geographical Location

The majority of the examples we included above stem from research and studies held in the United States. However, the gender pay gap changes drastically across different cultures and countries. It also changes within America by state as well as by city. 


Gender Pay Gap by Country

Image via OECD

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development conducted a major study that broke down gender pay gap by country, and they found that Belgium had the lowest gender pay gap at just 3.7% and Korea had the highest by far at 34.6%. The United States ranked as the fifth largest pay gap at 18.2%.


U.S. Gender Pay Gap by State

Image via AAUW

The AAUW took their study a bit further and looked at states in the U.S. that both had low gender pay gaps and implemented laws to protect equal pay. They then ranked states based on protections, occupational segregation, defense/rebuttals, remedies, procedures and preventative measures — all of which you can learn about for each individual state. 

The best state for gender pay gap and equal pay protections is California with an 88% gender pay ratio. Wyoming came in 50th with a gender pay ration of 70%.


Gender Pay Gap by Major U.S. Cities

Image via AAUW Information via U.S. Census Bureau

A lot of states within the U.S. are quite large, and some include several major cities while others are mostly small towns. These factors also contribute to how equal pay is calculated geographically. The AAUW looked more closely into the differences and found that of all the major cities in the U.S., Miami, Florida came in with the best gender pay gap ratio at 91.4% and Detroit, Michigan, had the largest gap at 72.4%.


As you can see, the gender pay gap is no simple topic to cover, and we only just scratched the surface of all of the factors that affect workers' pay. As a recruiter, make sure you continue to do research within your industry and the specific roles you will be hiring for in the future to help eliminate the gender pay gap. To learn more about improving your recruiting tactics, check out our tech recruiter resources


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