In 2012, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 77 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 23 percent. The gap has narrowed since the 1970s, due largely to women's progress in education and workforce participation and to men's wages rising at a slower rate. Progress has stalled in recent years, and the pay gap does not appear likely to go away on its own.
Equal pay is not simply a women's issue -- it's a family issue. Families increasingly rely on women's wages to make ends meet. In typical married households, women's incomes accounted for 36 percent of total family income in 2008, up from 29 percent in 1983. A large majority of mothers are in the paid labor force, and about one-third of employed mothers are the sole breadwinners for their families.
For the 34 percent of working mothers who are their families' sole breadwinner -- either because they are single parents or their spouses are not in the labor force -- the gender pay gap can contribute to poor living conditions,poor nutrition, and fewer opportunities for their children. For these women, closing the gender pay gap is much more than a point of pride -- it'sa matter of necessity.
This guide provides key facts about the gender pay gap in the United States, along with explanations and resources.