20 Worst Paying Jobs for Women

August 20, 2019 by Steven M. Peters

The long-held notion that men, as breadwinners, should be paid more than women holding the same job has stopped being valid decades ago. The family unit has evolved with women and men sharing the responsibilities. What’s more, paying someone less for doing the same job because of their sex (or race) has been illegal since the Equal Pay Act of 1963. And though the gender pay gap has slowly narrowed over the decades, it continues to persist.

The gender income gap persists even though in some high-paying jobs, such as financial analysts, financial managers, and physicians and surgeons, women hold 40% or more of the positions. In fact, in some of these higher-paying professions, the gender gap is even wider.

Even stars playing for the women’s U.S. soccer team — which has a better winning record and a larger audience than the men’s team — are paid lower wages than players in the men’s team.

The gender pay gap is not a uniquely U.S. problem. It exists even in the best countries for working women. In the United States, which ranks No. 8, women earn just 79.3% as much as men in comparable jobs.

Perhaps because for centuries women worked at home for free, it has been posited that women’s work — in general — is not valued as highly as men’s work, and there is evidence to back that up. For example, as more women find work in fields once dominated by men, such as design and biology, the average pay tends to drop.

A 2013 study by the Pew Research Center found that women were the sole breadwinners of a record 40% of households with children. And yet, there has been little lasting progress on narrowing the income inequality gap.

Click here to see the 20 worst paying jobs for women.
Click here to see our methodology.

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20. Financial analysts
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 74.9%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $1,197
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $1,599
> Number of workers: 261,000 (46.7% women)

Assessing the performance of stocks, bonds, and other types of investments is all in a day’s work for financial analysts. Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Less than half the people employed as financial analysts are female, and their median weekly salary is not even 75% of their male counterparts’s median salary. The typical woman employed full-time as a financial analyst makes about $400 less a week, which amounts to a $20,904 annual gap.

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19. Industrial engineers, including health and safety
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 74.0%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $1,163
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $1,571
> Number of workers: 245,000 (22.0% women)

A variety of bachelor’s degrees can lead to an industrial engineering career, among them general engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, manufacturing engineering, and industrial engineering technology. Health and safety industrial engineers would need a bachelor’s in environmental health and safety, or in one of the engineering disciplines.

Women industrial engineers’ median earnings are 26% below those of male industrial engineers, who also hold 78% of the jobs.

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18. First-line supervisors of retail sales workers
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 73.8%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $672
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $911
> Number of workers: 2,421,000 (43.9% women)

This is one job where the salary gender gap has narrowed slightly in the past year. In our 2018 report, women earned 71.7% as much as men in the same job compared to 73.8% in the current report, a 2.1 percentage point improvement. The median weekly wages have slightly increased for both men and women in the job.

Still, the gap remains large, and women earn $239 less a week than men, a difference that adds up to $12,428 annually. Narrowing the gender pay gap in this lower-paying occupation would significantly help women cope financially.

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17. Marketing and sales managers
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 73.5%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $1,362
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $1,852
> Number of workers: 963,000 (46.4% women)

The nearly 1 million sales and marketing managers are responsible for setting sales goals and planning and coordinating marketing initiatives.

While the share of female marketing and sales managers has increased from 43.1% last year to 46.4%, a 3.3 percentage points increase, the wage gap has remained largely unchanged. Women working as marketing and sales managers gross a median weekly salary of $1,362, compared with a median weekly wage of $1,852 men working full-time in the same job.

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16. Electrical, electronics, and electromechanical assemblers
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 73.4%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $518
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $706
> Number of workers: 110,000 (48.2% women)

Electrical, electronics, and electromechanical assemblers are employed from coast to coast, with the highest concentration in California, Texas, Michigan, New York, and Ohio. People holding this job title are charged with putting together or modifying electrical, electronic, or electromechanical equipment like computers, brakes, electric motors, and other devices.

While the gender pay gap in this occupation is one of the largest, median wages for both sexes are among the lowest compared to all jobs. In the course of a year, men doing this work will outgross women in the same jobs by a median of almost $10,000 — one of the smaller dollar differences of all occupations on this list.

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15. Personal financial advisors
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 73.3%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $1,207
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $1,647
> Number of workers: 414,000 (35.3% women)

The personal financial advisors profession was No. 1 in last year’s report. With the highest gender wage gap, women in the profession earned just 58.9% of the median earnings of men in the profession.

Though wage parity is still a long way away for women dispensing advice to individuals on matters such as investments, insurance, mortgages, college savings, estate planning, taxes and retirement, the pay gap has significantly narrowed. Even with this step forward, the median weekly wages of women holding the job is still $440 below the median for men. Last year, the weekly earnings gap was $683.

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14. Insurance underwriters
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 73.0%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $1,032
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $1,413
> Number of workers: 122,000 (58.2% women)

It is up to an underwriter to decide whether to provide insurance, and under what terms. Many employers prefer hiring someone with a bachelor’s degree for the job, though there is some flexibility if a candidate has related experience and strong computer skills.

Women hold a good majority of the jobs in the field, at 58.2%, but they’re earning just 73% of the median salary paid to men. The weekly difference amounts to close to $20,000 less a year for women compared to men with the same responsibilities.

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13. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 72.1%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $816
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $1,131
> Number of workers: 728,000 (14.6% women)

Police officers are charged with protecting life and property in a work environment described as physically demanding, stressful, and dangerous, according to the BLS. Not only that, the rate of injury and illness of police and sheriff’s patrol officers is among the highest of all occupations. Plus, crime never sleeps, so shift work and long hours are common.

Only 14.6% of police and sheriff’s patrol officers are female, one of the lowest such shares of any occupation. As is generally the case, male dominated management positions can help explain the gender wage gap in a particular occupation. A recent study indicated that seniority and experience seem to pay off much more for men than for women.

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12. Food processing workers
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 72.0%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $539
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $749
> Number of workers: 142,000 (36.6% women)

The butcher, the baker, the flour-tortilla maker and so many other food processing workers are responsible for preparing most of the food we eat. They take raw ingredients in their most basic forms and get them ready to go into our shopping carts or onto our tables.

The median weekly wages of $539 for women and $749 for men are each among the lowest across all full-time occupations. The $210 gender pay gap in each week’s median wage adds up to a difference of $10,920 annually.

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11. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 71.7%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $450
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $628
> Number of workers: 399,000 (14.5% women)

Long-held gender roles and biases, as well as old traditions, likely help explain why there are so few female taxi drivers and chauffeurs. Women account for only 14.5% of professional drivers in this category, one of the more skewed proportions and down from last year’s report.

What’s more, the pay gap in this profession has increased, from 72.7% of men’s median earnings last year to 71.7% this year. In the most recent statistics, women earned 71.7% as much as men on the job, a drop from the 72.7% we reported the previous year.

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10. Retail salespersons
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 71.1%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $543
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $764
> Number of workers: 1,860,000 (38.5% women)

With 1.8 million people nationwide employed full-time as retail salespersons — 716,000 (38.5%) of whom are women — this occupation is one of the largest in the country.

Women working full-time in retail sales are underrepresented in the higher paying management jobs while and overrepresented in lower paying sales, stocking, and cashier positions. As is generally the case across the U.S. workforce, this could help explain the pay gap, which among such workers is the difference between male and female median weekly earnings of $764 and $543.

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9. First-line supervisors of production and operating workers
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 71.0%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $745
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $1,050
> Number of workers: 792,000 (18.9% women)

People holding these supervisory roles are likely to be employed by businesses making plastics, machinery, car parts, coal and petroleum products, among other items. Less than 20% of the people holding this job are female, and their income is almost 30% lower than the typical male working a similar job. The $305 weekly difference in median income adds up to more than $300,000 over the course of a 20-year career.

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8. Financial managers
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 70.7%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $1,262
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $1,784
> Number of workers: 1,158,000 (57.3% women)

Financial managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization. While women dominate in the field—currently filling more than 57% of the positions—men dominate in the pay envelope. Women are paid less than 71 cents compared with each dollar men are paid in the position.

Unfortunately, the pay disparity has not improved over last year’s report. The gap in the median weekly salary worsened from $507 last year to $522 according to the latest figures.

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7. Real estate brokers and sales agents
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 69.9%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $883
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $1,264
> Number of workers: 528,000 (55.1% women)

The percentage of women working as real estate brokers and sales agents has remained the same since last year’s report—55.1%–but the wage gap has widened. The job entails helping clients buy, sell, and rent properties, and compensation frequently includes large commissions. According to the latest figures the median weekly income disparity between male and female sales agents and brokers is $381. The statistic is especially disappointing considering that the difference the previous year was $341.

According to a 2015 survey of women employed in real estate and land use careers by the Urban Land Institute, a disproportionately small share of women in the field are executives at their real estate firms.

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6. Chief executives
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 69.8%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $1,736
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $2,488
> Number of workers: 1,098,000 (28.0% women)

The BLS ranks chief executives as the 10th highest paying occupation. Chief executives earn their keep by devising strategies and policies to ensure the business meets its goals; other duties include planning, directing, and coordinating operational activities.

While no doubt that life at the top can be pretty cushy, it is way cushier for some than for others. Women now hold fewer than one-third of all chief executive jobs, and the typical female CEO earns a $1,736 per week compared to the median weekly earnings for men of $2,488. The difference for women could mean earning more than $10 million less than men holding the same title.

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5. Sales representatives, services, all other
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 69.4%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $933
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $1,345
> Number of workers: 427,000 (26.5% women)

More than a million workers around the nation are now employed in the category known as sales representatives, services, all other. The job title includes a variety of sales-related positions, such as energy broker and sales reps working in telecommunications, scientific research, and financial services.

While there were significantly fewer people in the field a year ago—just over 450,000—the percentage of females holding the position has pretty much held steady. The current 28% is up just 1.8 percentage points over last year’s report. The pay gap has narrowed slightly, from a $430 difference in pay between men and women to a $412 difference this year.

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4. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 67.4%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $559
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $829
> Number of workers: 2,791,000 (5.6% women)

Very few women are among the millions of driver/sales workers and truck drivers who pick up and deliver packages and small shipments regionally. In fact, while this job employs more Americans than any other occupation on this list, the category attracts the lowest percentage of women among the 20 worst paying jobs for women.

Just 5.6% of workers in this profession are women, though the percentage has increased from last year’s 4.9%. But even as more women work in the profession the wage gap has increased from 73% of men’s median earnings last year to 68% this year. While men’s median weekly pay increased from $807 to $829, women’s pay actually dropped from $589 to $559.

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3. Physicians and surgeons
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 66.7%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $1,677
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $2,513
> Number of workers: 827,000 (42.6% women)

While doctors and surgeons generally earn some of the highest salaries, women doctors and surgeons still make considerably less — about two-thirds less — than their men counterparts. The considerable pay gap persists even as women now account for more than 42% of physicians and surgeons in this country.

In fact, a recent study revealed that the noble profession ranks No. 2 on the list of careers in which the gender income gap will cost women the most money. Over the course of her career, a typical female physician or surgeon will earn close to $20 million less than her male counterparts.

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2. Credit counselors and loan officers
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 65.7%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $948
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $1,443
> Number of workers: 332,000 (53.3% women)

The BLS expects employment for loan officers to increase by 11% between 2016 and 2026. But the percentage of women employed as credit counselors and loan officers has actually decreased in the past year. In 2018, women accounted for 60.3% of all people holding the job title, and the new statistics show women hold just 53.3% of the jobs in the occupation, a drop of 7 percentage points.

The wage gap has increased too, with women currently earning less than 66 cents for every dollar paid to men in the same jobs. Last year, females earned about 72 cents for every dollar males earned.

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1. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 63.9%
> Women’s median weekly earnings: $1,047
> Men’s median weekly earnings: $1,639
> Number of workers: 197,000 (33.5% women)

Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents is another profession where the gender wage gap increased rather than decreased over the past year. Last year, women earned 64.3% as much as men with the same job title. The latest figures show women now earn even less than men, at 63.9% of men’s median earnings.

In dollar terms, the gender difference in the weekly median earnings has increased from $505 last year to $592 this year.

Methodology

To identify the worst paying jobs for women, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the difference in median weekly wages between men and women in 2018 for 124 full-time occupations from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) program.

Total employment, male and female employment, employment projections from 2016 to 2026, and education requirements also came from the BLS. For employment projections and 10-year changes in median weekly wages, only jobs with consistent standard occupational codes are comparable between years. Broad occupational categories that subsumed more precise designations were not considered.