You may have had a thought at some point of your life: do I earn as much as another person in a similar profession with similar working experience? With this calculator, you can have some insight into how your wage depends on your sex, race, and occupation in general. This calculator is based on the detailed statistics for the US, but if you want to check the general gender pay gap for other countries, check out our last year's gender wage gap.

Countless things influence the course of your life from when you see the daylight for the first time. The country or culture you were born into, or the wealth and social position of your family, all actively affect your life. Naturally, your ambitions and capabilities are also important factors, though there are other innate features as your ethnic background or race that may also be influential. Still, there is one more trait that plays plays a vital role in the path of your career - and it's your gender.

Different earnings for men and women, that is, the gender wage gap, is a long-lasting problem in our society. Today the average woman in full-time employment earns around 81 cents for every dollar a man does (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018). This means that if you are a woman and your wage, let's say, is $800 per week, you may earn $152 less in a week, which is approaching the $8,000 in a year!

Why is that? In our article, you can read about the possible reasons and the background of this issue. We also give you advice and suggestion on how to help to close the gap.

unequal distribution of pay in the US. Gender and race differences

Gender equality and pay gap calculator

Almost a century ago, gender equality and woman rights appeared in public awareness. Some may think that after so many years we finally arrived at this mythical gender equality. We'd like to leave here just a couple explicit examples:

  • Let's start with literature: a bit more than 20 years ago, a woman writer finished a manuscript of a book. She was looking for a publisher, but twelve publishing houses rejected the manuscript. Finally she found one, but her publishers suggested that she should change her first name to initials only - to hide her gender.

    Her name was Joanne Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series.

  • Let's have a look at actors from red carpets of Tinseltown, then. Take the ranking of the top ten highest-paid female actors and analogical list for actors. You could assume that the earnings should be more or less similar.

    Unfortunately, it's not the case. Last year's highest-paid actress - Emma Stone - earned $26 million, while the top on the men's ranking - Mark Wahlberg - earned $68 million. Not jumping to conclusions, you could think it's just an isolated incident, as Wahlberg is also winning in "the most overpaid actor" category. Again, you'll be mistaken: Emma with her earnings would not even appear on the top 10 men's list. If you sum the earnings from both lists, the top ten highest-paid actresses earn less than 25% of their male counterparts. As Natalie Portman said in a 2017 interview: Compared to men, in most professions, women make 80 cents to the dollar. In Hollywood, we are making 30 cents to the dollar.

  • Perhaps in sports the situation is better?

    We won't compare the earnings of the best basketball players of two genders, as you can argue that men's sport is much more popular and thus creates more revenue (still, the differences as huge as less than one cent for top women per dollar earned by best men doesn't seem fair). We're not mentioning the 100 best-paid athletes in the world (women: 0). Instead, let's take a closer look at tennis: the earnings of best tennis players differ substantially (80 cents for female for each dollar earned by male players), although in 2008 the grand slam offered equal prize money for men and women, so tennis is a leading sport in terms of gender equality. Also, not so long ago U.S. women's national soccer team, despite doing comparable work (and even generating more revenue than men), was paid only a quarter of men earnings. The team finally resolved the pay dispute with federation, but why did they have to fight for it?

Even though these examples come from the world of stars and celebrities, we can't forget that gender inequality and pay gap is a real thing, and it applies to all of us. With our pay gap calculator you can check what your earnings would be if you were of the opposite gender or had a different skin color. Of course, it's an approximate tool which is generalizing a lot: we're not taking into account many factors influencing earnings such as education, location, position, experience, performance, etc. Ideally, you should compare your earnings with a person of different gender/ race / ethnicity, but doing exactly the same job, having the same results, experience and so on - but it's unfortunately impossible, so we're making the approximations on the basis of the US Statistics. More details about data and calculations may be found in the Disclaimers section.

Why do women earn less?

There are many explanations for the gender pay gap. Even though some reasons for the difference are known and can be measured, this does not give the full picture. As a result of decades of researches and investigations, the most common reasons are the following:

  • Marriage and motherhood

Women have a considerable burden on their shoulder during the time of maternity and parenting which can strongly influence their career. For example, women often leave a high-paying job when they have a child as they prefer the more traditional gender role of child care, or simply don't have other choices as they face severe difficulties when they re-enter the labor market after maternity leave.

  • Unequal participation in household chores

Generally, women do more housework than men. Traditional female tasks are more time-consuming (for example cooking or ironing) and are daily basis chores, in contrast to the more "masculine" tasks (as gardening or repairing), which have a more flexible schedule and are more occasional. As a result, many women take a "second shift" when they arrive home which contributes to gender inequality.

  • Balancing work and family responsibilities

It is generally more difficult for women to harmonize their working schedule with family responsibilities. Still, women are usually the ones devoting more time to family - and it's more expected from them.

  • Different attitudes and approaches towards material benefits

Women often have lower salary expectations, and they usually take a more moderate position in salary negotiations. Besides, in many cases women care more about social values than material benefits or authority which are more important for men.

  • Differences in occupations between men and women

Because of traditions or personal characteristics, there are many occupations where gender segregation is common. For example, more men work in managerial positions, full-time positions, and positions with more authority and promotion opportunities.

  • Wage discriminations and stereotypes

Multiple studies have found that rational factors cannot explain a considerable part of the pay gap. As an example, have a look at the short article describing the study about hiring woman in science, where potential employers were assessing the almost identical résumés - the only difference was a female or male name on it. Despite the exact same qualifications and experience, the man was perceived as more competent, more valuable and he was more likely hired. Moreover, he was offered higher salary and more mentoring opportunities! This part of the gap definitely is the result of gender discrimination.

As now you know some of the most important reasons behind the gender wage gap, you can read further and get some ideas why is it so crucial for our society.

Why should we care about the gender wage gap?

The first and probably the most important answer is discrimination. Although the Equal Pay Act of 1963 outlawed wage discrimination based on sex, there is still a sizable part of the gender wage gap which can't be justified. Discriminating anyone on their gender or any other natural feature is morally wrong. It is harmful to a person, a family and a society as a whole. Have a look at this heart-warming video by Finansforbundet (The Finance Sector Union of Norway), prepared for Women's Day 2018.

Besides discrimination harming a person's dignity, the gender wage gap has a considerable financial impact on an individual's life or their family. Gender wage gap:

  • cuts not only income for women but for the whole family as well;
  • lowers benefits linked to salary, especially retirement savings;
  • is extending the working years of women before retirement;
  • can make women economically dependent;
  • can make it harder for women to pay for education, child care and to accumulate wealth, for example, to buy a house.

There are more indirect reasons why we should care about the gender gap. Most of the experts agree that better gender balance in education, employment, and wages would bring many economic benefits:

  • it would cut poverty rate of working women by half (Institute for Women's Policy Research);
  • it would add an extra income of $512.6 billion for the US economy (Institute for Women's Policy Research);
  • it would speed up economic growth by 5 percent in the US (IMF);
  • involving women in higher management would boost company earnings (IMF);
  • it would increase tax revenues;
  • studies show that improving gender equality has beneficial spill-over effects on other parts of the economy.

The lifetime wage gap in the United States

We already gave you a hint about how vast a gap that can emerge in yearly incomes between men and women. But let's see this for the whole lifetime or career. On average, the lifetime wage gap loss for women in the United States is as high as $403,440 (National Women's Law Center), which is enough money to buy a house! Of course, this number depends highly on other factors, for example, ethnicity or career path, but it gives you a general view of how serious this issue is. Besides, the size of the gap also depends on where you spend your life: in Louisiana, on average, a woman during her whole career may lose more than $600,000 compared to the loss of around $200,000 in Florida, which still is a massive amount of money!

lifetime wage gap for women compared with men

Source: National Women’s Law Center (2016)

Besides the location, the career wage gap also depends on the educational level: women with a college degree or higher may lose more than $700,000 over a 40-year career compared to the loss of near $300,000 for women who did not finish high school. Also, the type of occupation has a great influence: the widest gaps are in finance and management, and the smallest ones are in construction and maintenance.

One explanation of why women can lose such an enormous amount of money is that they generally receive lower salary increases by promotion or a new job. These differences pile up during the whole career, eventually reaching an immense value.

the career gender pay gap chart

Source: Center for American Progress Action Fund (2008)

Moreover, wage differences emerge already in the teenage labor years, what contributes to a higher lifetime wage gap. But the considerable gender wage gap in such an early stage of life has a more alarming signal. Since common explanations for inequalities as working experience, education or motherhood does not exist among young workers, it suggests that that gender-based discrimination is a real problem for the society.

median annual earnings for men and women

Source: The Cost of Being a Girl - Working Teens and the Origins of the Gender Wage Gap. Besen-Cassino, Yasemin (2018)

Gender wage gap in the long term

The earliest data on the gender wage gap came from 1820 when a woman earned only 35 percent of a man's income (Wade and Ferree, 2015). Although the gap has narrowed considerably over the centuries, the gender wage gap is still a striking problem in society. Besides, in the two last decades, the gap has been about the same size.

median hourly wages across years - men and women comparison

Source: EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata

What can we do to eliminate the gap?

It doesn't matter if you are a man or woman, regardless of your occupation or position, we all can help to close the gender pay gap. As you have seen, balancing payments of different genders is favorable for the whole society, and even a little step toward gender equality positively affects our life. In the following paragraph, you can read some suggestions and ideas about how you can contribute to resolving this problem.

  1. From a personal or family point of view the below points may give you some hints on the ways of eliminating the pay gap:
  • balancing house chores and responsibilities between family members

Equal share of housework and other family responsibilities can lessen a womans burden.

  • involving men in parenting

More engagement of men when their babies are born, for example, paternity leave, can help mothers to keep up their career path.

  • women should take a more demanding position during wage negotiation or promotions

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" - women should stand up for their values and be confident during wage negotiations when they enter the labor market from the very beginning.

  • reveal wage discriminations

Speaking up and expressing concern can also stop morally wrong behavior.

  1. Business and educational institutions could help in closing the gap by:
  • encouraging women and men to try occupations which are not traditional for their gender
  • part-time and flexible working arrangements
  • businesses (and governments) should do much more to ensure fair pay and help women to achieve economic equality
  • regular review on compensation schemes and ensure wage equality
  • updating labor standards
  • changing the culture of work to value work-life balance
  • more transparency in compensation data.
  1. Also the Government has a key-role in narrowing the gender pay differences by:
  • improving parental and family leave policies
  • enforcing existing fair pay laws and initiating further laws to guarantee more equality
  • monitoring the labor market and working environments
  • providing incentives and guidance for employees and employers
  • improving education, training, and research to enhance gender equality
  • promoting the social benefit and social safety net.


The hypothetical salary was calculated as the multiplication of the pay gap (in percentages) in the specified group and actual earnings entered by the user.

The calculator relies on the data from The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation 2018 and by Race and Ethnicity article and Bureau of Labor Statistics Data. Calculations of the pay gap are based on 2018 median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers for each gender - race/ethnicity group, for each occupation category separately.

Other factors influencing pay gap of the representative groups (e.g., age, education, position, etc.) was not taken into account due to the shortage of data.

Accordingly, the individual results correspond to a median representative of each specified group that might diverge due to the omitted variables.


  • Arons, Jessica (2008). Lifetime Losses - The Career Wage Gap.
  • Bertrand, Marianne; Goldin, Claudia and Katz, Lawrence F. (2010). Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors.
  • Besen-Cassino, Yasemin (2018). The Cost of Being a Girl - Working Teens and the Origins of the Gender Wage Gap.
  • Davis, Alyssa and Gould, Elise (2015). Closing the pay gap and beyond - A comprehensive strategy for improving economic security for women and families.
Hanna Pamuła, PhD candidate and Tibor Pal, PhD candidate
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