President John F. Kennedy in 1963 signed into law the Equal Pay Act, which prohibits wage discrimination on the basis of gender. While progress has been made in the years since, now, over half a century later, the median annual salary for women working full-time in the United States is $41,512 — about $10,000 less than the salary for men.
The Equal Pay Act’s failure to close the gender pay gap is telling. Income inequality is a complex problem with causes that cannot simply be legislated away.
Some of these causes are social and cultural. For example, women tend to work fewer hours than men due in no small part to traditional gender roles regarding household duties, like child rearing. Women are also more likely to work in lower-paying occupations in lower-paying industries than men. The differences in wages caused by such self sorting is even more pronounced in high-skill jobs that require higher educational attainment.
These factors, in addition to outright wage discrimination, all contribute to the wage gap.
The gender pay gap, however, varies from state to state. Nationwide, women earn about 81 cents for every dollar men earn. In some states, the gap is far more pronounced, with women earning less than 75 cents on the dollar. Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, women earn an average of nearly 90 cents for every dollar men earn.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed women’s pay as a share of men’s pay in every state to identify the worst-paying states for women.