2023 marks the 60th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in wages. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also protects against wage discrimination based on factors including race, color, national origin, and sex. These laws require that employers pay employees equally for performing equal work—meaning work that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions. Despite these legal protections, however, women continue to face a significant gender wage gap.
The gender wage gap is calculated as the ratio of women’s median annual earnings to those of men. Women of color experience some of the largest wage gaps, due to the impacts of intersecting gender, racial, and ethnic biases. The gender wage gap reflects a range of issues, including occupational segregation, where women are overrepresented in low-paying jobs and underrepresented in high-paying ones, and exists in nearly every occupation and at every level of worker education.
This series page provides research on the persistent gender wage gap; highlights recent state and federal actions to improve women’s economic security; and advocates for policy solutions to secure equal pay, such as the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen equal pay protections, prohibit employer retaliation, and limit employers’ reliance on salary history in pay-setting during the hiring process.