Gender Pay Equity

In order for our city to thrive, we must strengthen the economic security of women in our workforce by taking affirmative steps to close the gender wage gap. Currently our gender wage gap is the worst in the nation; women in the Seattle area are paid 73 cents for every dollar paid to men. This amounts to a yearly gap of $16,346 between men and women who work fulltime[1], and this gap increases further for women of color[2] and transgender women.

Women should receive equal pay for equal work. The National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF) calculated that on a national level over the span of a 30-year career a woman can expect to earn $332,520 less than her male counterpart. This has considerable implications for perpetuating economic insecurity and poverty for women. According to the NPWF study, if we successfully eliminated the pay gap, the average woman would have approximately enough money to pay for 2.3 years of food for her family, eight more months of mortgage and utility payments, 16 months more of rent, and over 4,000 additional gallons of gas. This is a real problem for the 141,900 households that are headed by women in our city,[3] and even more so for the 23% of those households that fall below the poverty level.

To address this inequity the city can take concrete steps. One crucial step is to establish a citywide paid family leave policy for all workers in the city limits. That must also be matched with a policy to prohibit gender wage discrimination, and to extend gender anti-discrimination provisions to all city contracts. The city can remove other barriers too, like prohibiting salary history in hiring practices which historically disadvantages women.


[1] U.S. Census Bureau. (2012). American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates 2011, Table B20017: Median Earnings in the Past 12 Months by Sex by Work Experience in the Past 12 Months for the Population 16 Years and Over with Earnings in the Past 12 Months, Geographies: All Metropolitan Statistical Areas within United States and Puerto Rico.

[2] Closing the Wage Gap is Crucial for Women of Color and Their Families. National Womens Law Center. (2015) Found online at:

[3] Ibid, Geographies: All Metropolitan Statistical Areas within United States and Puerto Rico, Table DP02: Selected Social Characteristics in the United States.