The gender pay gap has narrowed substantially since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963. Still, the typical woman working full time in the United States earns $40,022 a year — or only about 80% of the median annual income for men working full time of $50,119.
A study conducted by the Pew Research Center estimates a woman would need to work an additional 44 days a year to earn the same amount as her male counterpart.
Several explanations — some real, some imagined — are often given to account for the discrepancy. For example, women typically are out of work longer during pregnancy, women leave the workforce sooner, and women are more likely to pursue lower-paying careers. However, even when accounting for all these factors, there still appears to be a gap.
In the Chicago metro area, the wage gap closely matches that of the nation. The typical woman working full-time in Chicago earns $44,097 a year, or about 78.7% of the $56,019 median income of men in the metro area.
Differences in pay between men and women varies widely throughout Illinois. Of the 10 metro areas in Illinois, only three have a smaller gender wage gap than Chicago.
The gender pay gap in Chicago also varies by industry. The largest earnings gap between men and women in the metro area can be found in legal occupations, where women earn only 52 cents for every dollar earned by men.
The pay gap also tends to be worse in professions in which women have historically been excluded. The typical female in the sales profession in Chicago, for example, earns only 67 cents for every dollar a man in the field earns.