Women's median earnings are lower than men's in nearly all occupations, whether they work in occupations predominantly done by women, occupations predominantly done by men, or occupations with a more even mix of men and women. During 2011, median weekly earnings for female full-time workers were $684, compared with $832 per week for men, a gender wage ratio of 82.2 percent (Table 1; a gender wage gap of 17.8 percent). (1) Added to the gender wage gap within occupations is the gender wage gap between occupations. Male-dominated occupations tend to pay more than female-dominated occupations at similar skill levels, particularly at higher levels of educational attainment. (2) Tackling occupational segregation is an important part of tackling the gender wage gap.
The gender wage gap and occupational segregation--men primarily working in occupations done by men, and women primarily working with other women--are persistent features of the U.S. labor market. Only four of the 20 most common occupations for men and the 20 most common occupations for women overlap. Four of ten women (39.5 percent) work in traditionally female occupations and between four and five of ten male workers (44.5 percent) work in traditionally male occupations; only 5.8 percent of women work in traditionally male occupations and only 4.6 percent of men in traditionally female occupations. (3)
Women Earn Less Than Men in (Almost) All of the Most Common Occupations for Women
Table 1 shows the median weekly earnings and the gender wage gap in the 20 most common occupations for full-time working women. The three largest occupations, 'secretaries and administrative assistants', 'elementary and middle school teachers,' and 'registered nurses' together employ more than thirteen percent of all women. More than 40 percent of full-time female employees worked in only 20 occupations, but only 15 percent of full-time male employees work in these occupations. Nine of these occupations are female sex-typed, meaning at least three of four workers are women. One occupation, 'teachers' assistants,' employs too few men to estimate the gender wage gap.
Within women's 20 most common occupations, median full-time weekly earnings for women range from $1,034 per week for 'registered nurses' to $373 per week for 'cashiers' (Table 1). With one exception, 'bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks,' women earn less than men (these calculations include full-time workers only). The gender wage gap among the 20 most common female occupations is largest for 'financial managers,' with a gender median earnings ratio of 66 percent, men's median earnings are more than $500 per week than women's. (4)
Women Earn Less Than Men in (Almost) All of the Most Common Occupations for Men
Table 2 shows the median earnings and the gender wage gap in the 20 most common occupations for full-time working men. These occupations employ three out of ten male and one in seven female full-time workers; twelve of the occupations are non-traditional for women, and in five of the 20, 'automotive service technicians and mechanics,' carpenters,' 'construction laborers,' 'electricians,' and 'grounds maintenance workers,' there are too few women workers to estimate median weekly earnings for women.
Median full-time weekly earnings for men range from $2,122 for 'chief executives' to $406 for 'cooks' (Table 2). Five of the most common 20 occupations have weekly earnings above $1,000, compared with only two of the most common occupations for women. With one exception, 'stock clerks and order fillers,' where women's weekly earnings ($501) are 103 percent of those of men, men earn more than women in the most common male occupations. Women have almost reached parity in the occupation of 'police and sheriffs patrol officers,' where women earn $938 per week, 99 percent of male earnings.
Women are More than Twice as Likely as Men to Work in Occupations with Poverty Wages
Three of the most common occupations for women, 'cashiers,' 'waiters and waitresses,' and 'maids and household cleaners,' and two of the most common occupations for men, 'cooks' and 'grounds maintenance workers,' have median earnings for a full week of work that provide less than 100 percent of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' federal poverty levels for a family of four. (5) The poverty levels refer to annual earnings and translating them into weekly earnings assumes that a worker would be able to get full-time work for 52 weeks a year; this may not always be possible in these occupations (which are characterized by considerable fluctuations in demand for labor and, hence, unstable earning opportunities).
A further seven of the most common female and eight of the most common male occupations provide median earnings of less than 150 percent of the poverty threshold, potentially placing the workers in these occupations among the working poor, with earnings that are often too high to qualify for public supports but too low to attain economic security. These include occupations such as 'teacher assistants' and 'nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides.'
Low earnings are a significant problem for both male and female workers. Yet overall more than twice as many women (5.52 million) than men (2.3 million) work in occupations with median earnings for full-time work below the federal poverty threshold for a family of four. (6)
The Occupational Gender Wage Gap by Race and Ethnicity
The gender wage gap differs by race and ethnic background. Hispanic/Latina women have the lowest median earnings, at $518 per week, 55 percent of the median weekly earnings of white men; black women have median weekly earnings of $595, 64 percent of median weekly earnings of white men. Asians have the highest median weekly earnings, for both men and women, and the highest levels of educational attainment. The wage gaps for Asian women compared with Asian men and white women compared with white men are larger than the wage gap for the whole population; the wage gaps between black female and male workers and Latino male and female workers are smaller. More detailed information is available in IWPR's fact sheet, The Gender Wage Gap: 2011. (7)
Table 3 provides median weekly earnings for full-time work by race and ethnicity in seven intermediate occupational groups; the sample size in the Current Population Survey is not sufficient to provide reliable earnings estimates at a more detailed occupational level. The distribution of women across the occupations varies for each group. At least a quarter of white, black, and Asian women are working in 'professional and related' occupations, compared with under a fifth of Hispanic women; black and Hispanic women are more than twice as likely to work in service occupations than white women; Asian women are considerably less likely than other women to work in 'office and administrative support' occupations, and Hispanic women are most likely to work in 'production, transportation and material moving' occupations (Table 3).
With one exception (black women's earnings are 102 percent of black men's earnings in 'office and administrative support') in each of the major occupational groupings men earn more than women of the same race or ethnicity (Table 3). The gender earnings gap is magnified by a race and ethnic earnings gap: Hispanic women in management, business and finance, for example, earn only 83 percent of Hispanic men in these occupations, while Hispanic men earn only 71 percent of white men's earnings, and Hispanic women earn only 59 percent of white male managers. The median earnings of Hispanic women are lower than the federal poverty levels in three occupational groups, which collectively employ four out of ten (39.5) Hispanic women (Table 3).
(1) The weekly earnings data in this fact sheet are based on the Current Population Survey (CPS) and refer to full-time (working 35 hours or more per week) wage and salary workers age 16 and older (excluding the self-employed); annual earnings data for 2011 (which include workers 15 years and older as well as the self-employed, with earnings for at least 50 weeks of the year) are not available until Fall 2012; the gender wage gap based on annual earnings was 23 percent in 2010, and the female/male earnings ratio was 77 percent.
(2) See Ariane Hegewisch, Hannah Liepmann, Jeffrey Hayes, and Heidi Hartmann, "Separate and Not Equal? Gender Segregation in the Labor Market and the Gender Wage Gap." IWPR Briefing Paper. Institute for Women's Policy Research: Washington, DC, 2010:, available at <http://www.iwpr.org/publications/pubs/separate-and-not-equalgender- segregation-in-the-labor-market-and-the-gender-wage-gap>
(3) The definition of traditional/non-traditional occupations as having at least 75 percent of the workers of one gender is provided in the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998 S.250-6. Calculation includes only occupations with an estimated minimum of 50,000 workers. Restricting the calculation to full-time workers only increases segregation: 41.3 percent of women and 52.3 percent of men work full-time in traditional occupations for their gender; and 7.8 percent of women and 4.9 percent of men work full-time in occupations non-traditional for their gender (IWPR compilation of data based on US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Table 11. Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, Annual Average 2011. <http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.pdf>). Effective with January 2011 data, occupations reflect the introduction of the 2010 Census Standard Occupational classification system into the CPS. Data for 2011 are not strictly comparable with earlier years.
(4) Among all occupations, the gender wage gap is largest for women working full-time as 'property, real estate, and community association managers,' with a female/male earnings ratio of 60.6 percent, a gender wage gap of 39.4 percent (IWPR calculation based on same source as Table 1).
(5) The federal poverty levels for a family of four in 2011 was $22,350, or $430 per week for 52 weeks. One-hundred fifty of the poverty level was $33,525, or weekly earnings $645; see U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 'The 2011 HHS Poverty Guidelines', at <http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/11poverty.shtml> (retrieved April 15, 2012)
(6) IWPR calculation based on same source as Table 1.
(7) The fact sheet is available at <http://www.iwpr.org/publications/pubs/the-gender-wage-gap-2011>.
This fact sheet was prepared by Ariane Hegewisch, Claudia Williams, and Vanessa Harbin of the Institute for Women's Policy Research. Financial support was provided by the Annie. E. Casey Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
For more information on IWPR reports or membership, please call (202) 785-5100, e-mail email@example.com, or visit www.iwpr.org.
The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women, promote public dialogue, and strengthen families, communities, and societies. The Institute works with policymakers, scholars, and public interest groups to design, execute, and disseminate research that illuminates economic and social policy issues affecting women and their families, and to build a network of individuals and organizations that conduct and use women-oriented policy research. IWPR's work is supported by foundation grants, government grants and contracts, donations from individuals, and contributions from organizations and corporations. IWPR is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that also works in affiliation with the women's studies and public policy programs at The George Washington University.
Table 1: The Wage Gap in the 20 Most Common Occupations for Women (Full-Time Workers Only), 2011 Women's Women's Men's median earnings median weekly as percent weekly All full-time workers, earnings of men's earnings all occupations $684 82.2% $832 20 most common occupations for women Secretaries and $651 86.0% $757 administrative assistants Elementary and middle $933 91.3% $1,022 school teachers Registered nurses $1,034 95.7% $1,081 Nursing, psychiatric, and $446 88.8% $502 home health aides Customer service $569 90.6% $628 representatives Cashiers $373 90.8% $411 First-line supervisors of $599 78.9% $759 retail sales workers First-line supervisors/ $741 89.0% $833 managers of office and administrative workers Accountants and auditors $956 76.5% $1,250 Receptionists and $520 99.8% $521 information clerks Bookkeeping, accounting, $656 100.3% $654 and auditing clerks Managers, all other $1,047 74.5% $1,406 Retail salespersons $466 75.2% $620 Office clerks, general $594 83.4% $712 Maids and housekeeping $392 82.9% $473 cleaners Secondary school teachers $989 94.3% $1,049 Financial managers $991 65.9% $1,504 Teacher assistants $471 -- -- Waiters and waitresses $389 83.5% $466 Social workers $798 88.5% $902 Percent of all women and men: Share of female Number of Number of workers in male female All full-time workers, occupation workers workers all occupations 44.3% 55,971,000 44,486,000 Share of Share of male female workers in workers in occupation occupation as percent as percent 20 most common occupations of all male of all for women workers female workers Secretaries and 96.1% 0.2% 4.6% administrative assistants Elementary and middle 81.0% 0.8% 4.4% school teachers Registered nurses 90.3% 0.4% 4.4% Nursing, psychiatric, and 86.9% 0.3% 2.6% home health aides Customer service 64.4% 1.0% 2.2% representatives Cashiers 71.6% 0.7% 2.2% First-line supervisors of 43.1% 2.3% 2.2% retail sales workers First-line supervisors/ 67.2% 0.8% 1.9% managers of office and administrative workers Accountants and auditors 61.6% 1.0% 1.9% Receptionists and 91.0% 0.1% 1.8% information clerks Bookkeeping, accounting, 87.0% 0.2% 1.7% and auditing clerks Managers, all other 36.0% 2.3% 1.7% Retail salespersons 41.0% 1.9% 1.7% Office clerks, general 84.8% 0.2% 1.5% Maids and housekeeping 85.0% 0.2% 1.4% cleaners Secondary school teachers 57.2% 0.8% 1.3% Financial managers 54.3% 0.9% 1.3% Teacher assistants -- 0.1% 1.3% Waiters and waitresses 64.1% 0.6% 1.3% Social workers 81.0% 0.2% 1.3% Percent of all women and 14.7% 42.4% men: Note: * Earnings data are published only for occupations with an estimated minimum of 50,000 workers. Source: IWPR compilation of data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011. "Household Data, Annual Averages. Table 39." <http://www.bls. gov/cps/cpsaat39.htm> (retrieved April 2012). Table 2: The Wage Gap in the 20 Most Common Occupations for Men (Full-Time Workers Only), 2011 Women's Men's Women's earnings median median as weekly weekly percent earnings earnings of men's All workers $832 $684 82.2% 20 most common occupations for men Driver/sales workers and $712 $511 71.8% truck drivers Managers, all other $1,406 $1,047 74.5% First-line supervisors of $759 $599 78.9% retail sales workers Janitors and building $514 $418 81.3% cleaners Laborers and freight, stock, an $520 $416 80.0% Retail salespersons $620 $466 75.2% Construction laborers $587 -- -- Sales representatives, whole- $1,019 $927 91.0% sale and manufacturing Software developers, applica- $1,606 $1,388 86.4% tions and systems software Cooks $406 $363 89.4% Chief executives $2,122 $1,464 69.0% Grounds maintenance workers $424 -- -- Carpenters $630 -- -- Stock clerks and order $488 $501 102.7% fillers General and operations $1,319 $972 73.7% managers Automotive service technicians $718 -- -- Security guards and gaming $544 $474 87.1% surveillance officers Police and sheriffs patrol $948 $938 98.9% officers Electricians $855 -- -- Customer service $628 $569 90.6% representatives Percent of all women and men: Share of female workers in Number of Number of occupation male female (percent) workers workers All workers 44.3% 55,971,000 44,486,000 Share of Share of male female workers in workers in occupation occupation as percent as percent 20 most common occupations of all male of all for men workers female workers Driver/sales workers and 4.2% 4.2% 0.2% truck drivers Managers, all other 36.0% 2.3% 1.7% First-line supervisors of 43.1% 2.3% 2.2% retail sales workers Janitors and building 25.7% 2.0% 0.9% cleaners Laborers and freight, stock, an 13.9% 1.9% 0.4% Retail salespersons 41.0% 1.9% 1.6% Construction laborers 1.7% 1.5% 0.0% Sales representatives, whole- 24.0% 1.5% 0.6% sale and manufacturing Software developers, applica- 18.1% 1.5% 0.4% tions and systems software Cooks 37.1% 1.4% 1.0% Chief executives 24.7% 1.3% 0.6% Grounds maintenance workers 3.8% 1.3% 0.1% Carpenters 1.4% 1.3% 0.0% Stock clerks and order 34.0% 1.2% 0.8% fillers General and operations 29.3% 1.2% 0.6% managers Automotive service technicians 1.2% 1.2% 0.0% Security guards and gaming 20.1% 1.1% 0.4% surveillance officers Police and sheriffs patrol 11.5% 1.0% 0.2% officers Electricians 0.6% 1.0% 0.0% Customer service 64.4% 1.0% 2.2% representatives Percent of all women and 31.9% 13.7% men: Note: Earnings data are made available only where there are an estimated minimum of 50,000 workers in an occupation. Source: IWPR compilation of data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011. "Household Data, Annual Averages. Table 39." <http://www.bls. gov/cps/cpsaat39.htm> (retrieved April 2012). Table 3: Median Weekly Earnings for Male and Female Workers, by Broad Occupational Classification and Race and Ethnic Background (Full-Time Workers Only), 2011 White Women Black or African Female Workers (Non-Hispanic Only) American Women * Occupation Median White women Median Black women weekly in weekly in earnings occupation earnings occupation ($) as % of all ($) as % of all female female white black workers workers Management, $1,001 18.5% $889 12.8% business, and financial operations occupations Professional and $939 32.4% $796 25.8% related occupations Service occupations $450 11.9% $432 24.1% Sales and related $600 9.3% $442 8.3% occupations Office and $625 22.8% $590 21.5% administrative support occupations Natural resources, $619 0.7% $552 0.6% construction, and maintenance occupations Production, $533 4.4% $490 6.9% transportation, and material moving occupations Asian Women Latina or Hispanic Female Workers Women Occupation Median Asian women Median Latina weekly in weekly women in earnings occupation earnings occupation ($) as % of all ($) as % of all female female Asian Latina workers workers Management, $1,131 17.7% $847 10.5% business, and financial operations occupations Professional and $1,115 30.8% $806 18.4% related occupations Service occupations $480 18.2% $402 25.9% Sales and related $538 8.6% $437 9.4% occupations Office and $694 15.9% $576 22.3% administrative support occupations Natural resources, $503 0.7% $379 2.0% construction, and maintenance occupations Production, $461 8.1% $405 11.6% transportation, and material moving occupations White Men Black or African Male Workers (Non-Hispanic Only) American Men * White men Black men in in Occupation occupation occupation Median as % of all Median as % of all weekly male white weekly male black earnings workers earnings workers Management, business, and $1,431 18.30% $1,044 9.7% financial operations occupations Professional and $1,245 20.90% $912 15.0% related occupations Service occupations $632 10.40% $501 20.5% Sales and related $873 10.50% $603 7.5% occupations Office and $712 6.20% $579 9.9% administrative support occupations $823 16.40% $663 11.5% Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations Production, $713 17.40% $595 25.8% transportation, and material moving occupations Asian Men Latino or Hispanic Male Workers Men Asian men Latino men in in Occupation occupation occupation Median as % of all Median as % of all weekly male Asian weekly male Latino earnings workers earnings workers Management, business, and $1,434 16.1% $1,026 7.2% financial operations occupations Professional and $1,403 35.5% $1,012 8.1% related occupations Service occupations $535 13.5% $444 20.3% Sales and related $772 7.8% $619 6.6% occupations Office and $741 6.6% $583 7.3% administrative support occupations $756 6.6% $533 26.2% Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations Production, $584 13.9% $525 24.3% transportation, and material moving occupations Note: * Data for black or African Americans may include black Hispanics or Latinos. Source: IWPR compilation of data based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Table A-2. Usual weekly earnings of employed full- time wage and salary workers by intermediate occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity and Non-Hispanic ethnicity, Annual Average 2011.