The typical woman working full time in the United States earns just 80 cents for every dollar the typical man earns. While the gender pay gap has narrowed substantially since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, in some cities the wage gap is at a level not seen on a national scale since the 1980s.
To determine the best and worst paying cities for women, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed earnings data by gender for the 100 largest U.S. metro areas.
The gender pay gap is largest in the Provo-Orem, Utah metro area, where women earn just 63.5% of men’s median earnings. The smallest wage gap is in the Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina metro area, where women’s median earnings are 92.8% of men’s earnings.
One factor contributing to the gender wage gap is the underrepresentation of women in the country’s highest paying industries. In an exchange with 24/7 Wall St., Julie Anderson, senior research associate at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, explained, “The single largest contributor to the wage gap is occupational segregation, meaning women tend to go into female-dominated occupations, which have lower earnings, while men go into male-dominated occupations, which have higher earnings.”
While women in computer and mathematical occupations earn a median of $71,378 a year, compared to the $40,022 median for all jobs, just one in four workers in the profession are female. “Until more women break into those male-dominated fields,” Anderson said, “it’s going to be hard to tackle the gap.”
The pay gap is worse in professions that have historically excluded women. The typical female in the legal profession, for example, earns 53 cents for every dollar a male lawyer, judge, or clerk earns. The typical saleswoman earns 64 cents for every dollar the typical salesman earns, and women in health diagnosing and treatment professions — doctors and nurses — earn 65 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earn.
Another factor contributing to the gender pay gap is the traditional gender-based family roles in conjunction with the lack of adequate family leave and childcare policies. Given these constraints, married women often have to choose family responsibilities over time in the office. “More and more people are balancing work and family, and women tend to be the ones to shoulder unpaid caregiving,” Anderson explained. “Without policies that catch up to the new reality, women may be forced to scale back on their work or drop out altogether.”
In seven of the 10 cities with the smallest gender pay gaps, the share of women who have never been married is larger than the 30% national figure. In Provo-Orem, the metro area with the largest wage gap, more than 60% of women are currently married — the largest share of any major city.
To determine the best and worst paying cities for women, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed earnings data by gender for the 100 largest U.S. metro areas for 2015 from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Educational attainment rates and the share of women who have never married and the share who are currently married also came from the ACS.
These are the best and worst paying cities for women.