Examining the Gender Wage Gap

Examining the Gender Wage Gap

As LeadersUp works to bridge the talent divide for opportunity youth, it is imperative to our mission that we analyze the gender wage gap affecting the young women entering today’s labor force. During the past 10 years (2006 to 2015), the weekly gender wage gap has only narrowed by 0.3%, though women, at 48% of the workforce, work more now than ever before. As the wage gap continues to grow, we further evaluate the problem, and find that earnings are substantially lower for women of color. This is particularly important because many women of color are key to their family’s income and overall economic growth.

According to most recent reports, the national median income for full-time working women lies at $39,629, compared to men with median earnings of $50,383. Diving further, the wage-gap grows wider for Hispanic women with a lower median income of $29,791, followed by African American women with earnings of $33,772[1]. These numbers continue to stretch, further impacting women based on age, education, and family responsibilities.


Though young women currently entering the workforce are more likely to earn similar incomes to that of their male counterparts, a woman’s economic development path starts off at a disadvantage. The gap widens as she gets older: In 2014, women between the ages of 20–24 were paid 92% of what men were paid on a weekly basis, but the wage gap between men and women grew considerably with age as older women (55–64 years old) were paid only 76% of what their male peers earned.


Although education can help increase wages for both men and women, women’s median earnings continue to remain lower than men’s despite higher education attainment. Women with master’s degrees working full time are paid just 72 cents for every dollar that men with master’s degrees earn. The numbers are even more shocking when data reveals that women with doctoral degrees are paid less compared to men with master’s degrees[2].

Family Responsibilities

Working mothers have a deep impact on the economy as women comprise nearly half of the workforce, with more than half of those women being single parents and the primary breadwinners in their families. Unfortunately, single mothers are paid $22,885 less annually compared to fathers who work full time, year-round[3]. Women of color face even greater challenges as both African American and Latinas are more likely to be raising children in single-parent homes.

Exploring Solutions

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, named after a woman who discovered she was being paid less than men doing the same job, has helped change the legal process around discrimination against women in the workplace. The legislative piece allows working women to easily challenge illegal unequal pay, but work remains to be done to fully achieve wage equality. According to a Glassdoor survey, 7 in 10 employees do not believe that a gender pay gap exists in their company[4]. With these striking findings, it is our responsibility to raise awareness and recognize wage discrimination in the workplace. Recognition can create both a political will and company policies in favor of closing the gender wage gap.

Locally, LeadersUp is focused on creating a sustainable talent pipeline that is helping connect young motivated women and men (ages 18–24) to meaningful career opportunities. With 32% of single mothers comprising the opportunity youth[5] (18–24 years old who are out of work and not in school), it is important to continue our mission by connecting these young women to meaningful career opportunities that will provide them with the work experience and leadership skills needed to thrive in their future career paths. To date, we have connected more than 1,000 young adults to employment pathways. Achieving such successful employment rates is key to creating an economically inclusive society where young women and men will continue to thrive.

Follow us at www.facebook.com/LeadersUp to stay up-to-date on our latest news and announcements, and stay tuned for upcoming blog posts in our Women Bridging the Talent Divide series where we continue to examine issues affecting young women of color in the workplace.

[1] The Gender Wage Gap: 2015; Earnings Difference by Race and Ethnicity 

[2] The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Spring 2016)

[3]America’s Women and the Wage Gap

[4]An Unlevel Playing Field

[5]Global Gender Wage Gap Survey

[6]Collective Impact for Opportunity Youth

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