Research Indicates Pay Gap Will Not Close for 136 Years

September 13, 2016


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AAUW Analysis of Census Data Shows Women Won’t Have Equal Pay until 2152


WASHINGTON — The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has analyzed the latest U.S. Census Bureau data to determine how long it will take for the gender pay gap to close. The results underscore the importance of AAUW’s ongoing push for equal pay.

In 2015, the pay gap was 20 cents; that is, U.S. women working full time, year-round typically were paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. The latest pay gap number is not a statistically significant change from last year’s 79 cent number, indicating that the gap is closing at a glacial pace. Based on the data trend since 2001, AAUW researchers have determined that it will take more than a century, until 2152, for the pay gap to close. Women made great gains in the 1980s and 1990s as they entered the workforce at record numbers, but in the last 15 years, progress on closing the pay gap has stalled.

“As disappointing as it is to see women’s overall wages remain stuck behind men’s year after year, it’s even more startling when we look ahead,” said AAUW Vice President of Research Catherine Hill of the predicted 2152 finding, which will appear in The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, AAUW’s forthcoming research report. “A lot of attention today is understandably focused on the Census’ poverty numbers, but it’s also important to note the link between the pay gap and the number of women and children living in poverty and what that means for the future.”

The Simple Truth, which will be released next week, makes that link. New for this edition, the research report will include information on disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity in addition to the usual breakdowns of the pay gap by geography, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and occupation. The report also offers recommendations on what individuals, employers, and the federal government can do to address the multifaceted problem, as well as a discussion of what states are doing to take action on the pay gap.

“We know that women can do everything ‘right’ yet still face a pay gap,” said Lisa Maatz, vice president of government relations and advocacy at AAUW. “There are all kinds of great policy solutions that we should be passing — and passing in a strong, bipartisan way — yet Congress is still treading water on equal pay. Red, blue, and purple states across the country are taking action to close the gender pay gap because constituents have demanded action. While this is good news, equal pay shouldn’t depend on geography or winning the boss lottery. Capitol Hill must take action. Women and their families are tired of waiting.”

A leader in the effort to close the pay gap, AAUW is attacking the problem from multiple fronts by offering salary negotiation workshops; providing case support to plaintiffs seeking fair pay; advocating for legislative action on equal pay at the federal, state, and local levels; and offering voter education about where candidates stand on issues that matter to women and girls — all actions that come out of this important research. On September 15, AAUW will observe Native American women’s equal pay day, when the wages of American Indian and Alaska Native women “catch up” to the money white men took home in 2014 — taking an extra nine months.




The American Association of University Women (AAUW) empowers women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. Our nonpartisan, nonprofit organization has more than 170,000 members and supporters across the United States, as well as 1,000 local branches and more than 800 college and university partners. Since AAUW’s founding in 1881, our members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic, and political. Learn more and join us at

By:   |   September 13, 2016