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Barbie and the Gender Wage Gap

Despite decades of efforts to boost women’s representation throughout the U.S. economy, women still face a pay gap in nearly every single occupation—even high-paying ones.

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Doctor, physicist, lawyer, diplomat, judge, writer, journalist, and president: Is there anything Barbie can’t do? Barbie typically finds herself in high-wage, prestigious, and male-dominated occupations. Yet while onscreen representation of women in high-profile occupations is an important cultural moment, Barbie’s impressive career path is not reflective of the typical experience of working women. New Center for American Progress analysis demonstrates that only 22 percent of Physicist Barbie’s fellow astronomers and physicists are women, and only 39 percent of Lawyer Barbie’s fellow lawyers are women—and while there’s been a President Barbie since 1992, the United States has never had a female president. Women are much more likely to hold low-wage occupations, contributing to the existence and persistence of the gender wage gap that harms women and their families. Even in Barbie’s high-profile careers, she is likely paid less than the Kens in her workplace.

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The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Sara Estep

Associate Director

Rose Khattar

Former Director of Economic Analysis, Inclusive Economy


Charlie Schuyler

Video Intern

Hai-Lam Phan

Senior Director, Creative

Matthew Gossage

Events Video Producer

Toni Pandolfo

Video Producer, Production


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Inclusive Economy

We are focused on building an inclusive economy by expanding worker power, investing in families, and advancing a social compact that encourages sustainable and equitable growth.

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This series page provides resources on the gender wage gap and sex-based pay discrimination, as well as policy suggestions to help improve pay equity and reduce discrimination in the workplace and beyond.


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