The Gender Pay Gap

November 8, 2019 • Volume 29, Issue 40
Is overt discrimination the cause?
By Lisa Rabasca Roepe


Women continue to be paid less than men in the United States despite decades-long efforts to close the gap. Moreover, the gap — women currently earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by a man — persists across many industries, from Hollywood studios to nursing. But economists disagree about the scope and causes of the disparity. Some say the source is not discrimination but rather the fact that women tend to take jobs and follow career paths that pay less than the jobs men typically hold. Others disagree, noting that even female engineers often make less than their male counterparts. Several Democratic presidential candidates have offered proposals to help close the pay gap, including one that would require companies to certify that men and women are paid equally. The U.S. House has passed the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would, among other things, require companies to demonstrate that salary differences are based on education or years of experience rather than gender bias.

A woman holds a sign calling for equal pay during a Los

            Angeles (Getty Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Ronen Tivony)
A woman holds a sign calling for equal pay during a Los Angeles rally for International Women's Day on March 8. On average, women make 82 cents for every dollar men make, a gap that persists across different careers. (Getty Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Ronen Tivony)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Women and Work
Jul. 02, 2021  Women in the Workplace
Nov. 08, 2019  The Gender Pay Gap
Oct. 27, 2017  Workplace Sexual Harassment
Jul. 26, 2013  Women and Work
Apr. 14, 2006  Future of Feminism
Apr. 04, 2003  Mothers' Movement
Sep. 25, 1992  Women in the Military
May 10, 1985  Women's Economic Equity
Jul. 10, 1981  Women in the Military
Mar. 20, 1981  Equal Pay Fight
Jul. 04, 1980  Women in the Executive Suite
Jul. 13, 1979  Two-Income Families
Feb. 18, 1977  Women in the Work Force
Feb. 13, 1957  Woman's Place in the Economy
Apr. 22, 1944  Women Workers After the War
Jan. 26, 1942  Women in War Work
Jul. 13, 1926  Sex Equality and Protective Laws
Congress Actions
Diversity Issues
Economic Analyses, Forecasts, and Statistics
Equal Employment Opportunity & Discrimination
General Employment and Labor
Regulation and Deregulation
Undergraduate and Graduate Education
Vocational and Adult Education
Women in the Workplace