Everything You Need to Know About the Gender Wage Gap in Two Minutes

Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)–April 14, 2015.  Today, as equal pay advocates mark Equal Pay Day, the Center for American Progress released a new video explaining the complex factors behind the often-cited statistic that a woman earns just 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man, debunking the common claim that the gender wage gap is purely a product of a woman’s personal and professional choices. As explained in CAP’s new video, there are many structural and social factors—including occupational differences, differences in hours, and family caregiving, among many other factors—that contribute to the wage gap.

“The gender wage gap cannot be held in a vacuum because neither can a woman’s work choices,” said Sarah Jane Glynn, Director for Women’s Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress. “Women’s professional and personal decisions are dependent on a number of outside factors, including significant structural and economic realities that impede women’s ability to compete equally with men in the labor force.”

The gender wage gap between full-time, year-round working men and women has remained virtually unchanged in recent years, with women still earning 78 percent of what men make. This means that though women are the primary, sole, or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of families, they continue to earn, on average, 22 percent less than their male counterparts.

As explained by two companion analyses released today by CAP, the types of jobs that men and women hold, as well as the industries in which they work, have a large effect on the gender wage gap. In fact, in all but two of the occupations for which data are available, women earn less than men. This gap persists even in occupations that employ more women than men.

Importantly, as the companion analyses demonstrate, the gender wage gap cannot be attributed solely to “women’s choices.” Even when women choose the same jobs as men, the wage gap persists.

The gender wage gap is more sharply felt by Latinas and African American women, who experience a much greater wage deficit than white women. In a new issue brief also released today, CAP examines the social and economic factors that drive the gender wage gap for women of color. As detailed in the brief, women of color encounter a complex range of factors that contribute to the gender wage gap, such as working in lower-paying jobs, working fewer hours, and experiencing more substantial caregiving burdens compared to white women.

Collectively, CAP’s Equal Pay Day products highlight the need to make narrowing the gender wage gap a cultural and policy priority. More robust workplace protections and policies that help women balance work and family commitments—such as more robust equal pay protections, paid sick days, paid family leave, and fair scheduling practices—can help combat the many causes of the gender wage gap, both overall and within individual occupations.

Video: The Gender Pay Gap Explained by Sarah Jane Glynn, Sara Langhinrichs, and Andrew Satter

New CAP products:

Women of Color and the Gender Wage Gap by Milia Fisher

How the Gender Wage Gap Differs by Occupation by Emily Baxter

What Occupational Data Show About the Causes of the Gender Wage Gap by Emily Baxter

Related resources:

Explaining the Gender Wage Gap by Sarah Jane Glynn

7 Actions that Could Shrink the Gender Wage Gap by Sarah Jane Glynn, Milia Fisher, and Emily Baxter

Breadwinning Mothers, Then and Now by Sarah Jane Glynn