© National Committee
on Pay Equity
Pay Equity
Polling Data on the Wage Gap

When women are asked to rank the issues that are most important to them, fair pay continually surfaces among the top concerns. The issue resonates strongly with both men as well as women. Although majorities of voters from all demographic focus groups indicate support for pay equity, women and people of color are most passionate about the need to address this issue.

Following is polling data collected from throughout the 1990s and the year 2000 demonstrating several consistent themes: (1) the acknowledgment that women are not paid fairly; (2) that equal pay is a top workplace concern; and (3) that workers are receptive to solutions that provide economic equality.

Center for Policy Alternatives and Lifetime Television, "Women's Voices 2000," September 2000.
The Center for Policy Alternatives and Lifetime Television commissioned a series of focus groups and a bipartisan national poll to analyze women's views during the 2000 election cycle. Equal pay was the top workplace concern. Ninety-three percent (93%) of African American women, 91% of Latinas, 90% of Asian American women and 87% of white women said equal pay and benefits for women should be one of the top policy priorities in the United States.

Working Woman Magazine, "Paycheck Checkup," May 2000
To mark Equal Pay Day, Working Woman Magazine conducted an on-line poll with questions about the wage gap. Based on 300 respondents, 83% thought that the pay gap was generally a problem; 51% said their employer pays them less than a man would earn for doing the same job, and 53% attributed the pay gap to the employer's view of women as lacking in commitment.

AFL-CIO Working Woman's Department, "Ask a Working Woman," March 2000
Across the board, women responding to the Ask A Working Woman 2000 survey said that stronger equal pay laws should be the number one legislative priority. Nine out of ten (87%) working women said stronger equal pay laws are important, with 51% saying they are very important. The poll found that women of color and low-income women felt especially strong about fair pay: 58% of African American women, 61% of Hispanic women, and 59% of low income women ranked the issue as very important.

Business and Professional Women/USA, National Poll, September, 1999
This poll of 800 likely voters asked respondents whether they thought women and minorities were paid less for the same work as their white male counterparts. Overwhelmingly, voters from both sides of the political aisle said yes. Sixty-five percent of those likely to vote for the GOP in 2000 and 77% of likely Democratic voters believe women and minorities are paid less than white men for the same work. Broken down by gender, 60% of male voters and 78% of female voters said women and minorities are paid less. The poll was conducted by the bipartisan team of Frank Luntz and Jennifer Laszlo.


The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University, "Reality Check/The Gender Revolution," March, 1998.
In this comprehensive survey about gender, work and family issues, the Post found large numbers of both sexes saying that they believe women are paid less than men for similar work. Two-thirds of the men and 80% of the women believe women face pay discrimination. A majority of women and more than four in ten men believe that a major reason why women do not advance to top-level executive and professional positions is because men don't want women to get ahead in the workplace.

NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, "Women's Lives: A Perspective for the 21st Century," 1998.
In this series of eight focus groups conducted around the country, women were asked open-ended questions about their most pressing concerns and the changes that would improve life for themselves and their families. One of the top priorities cited was equal treatment in the workplace, and equal pay for equal work was an emphatic refrain in every focus group. Participants were acutely aware of the wage gap, saying it signifies the lack of respect for women in the workplace. The report noted that many of the women told personal stories of being paid less than men doing the same job, and most others knew of women who experienced discrimination. Participants expressed concerns that the wage gap affects families as well as individual working women, especially when considering that so many households are headed by women.

AFL-CIO, "Ask a Working Woman Survey," September, 1997.
This survey of 50,000 working women found that equal pay was the top concern of women in the workplace. When asked to rate the importance of various issues and benefits on the job, equal pay was the highest rated issue, with 99% calling it important and 94% calling it very important. Yet nearly one-third said their jobs did not provide equal pay for equal work. In an open-ended question, two out of five (41% percent) cited pay as the biggest problem facing women at work, including one in six (17%) who said "equal pay." An additional 24% cited low pay, gender discrimination, and/or the glass ceiling as problems.

Center for Policy Alternatives and Ms. Foundation, "Women's Voices: 1996 Focus Groups," September, 1996.
This national opinion poll found that the two biggest problems facing women at work are combining work and family and receiving equal pay for equal work. Twenty-five percent (25%) of women cited fair pay as their biggest hurdle. Women ( 82%) and men (70%) believe overwhelmingly that women are paid less than men for the same work. Enforcing equal pay laws and raising wages are women's top priorities for making their pay more equal to men's.

AFL-CIO, "A Nationwide Survey Among Union Members and the General Public on Politics and Legislation," April and May, 1995.
This survey found that the economic changes between 1985 and 1995 and the reduced security they produced for most workers continued to be the defining element of the nation's political environment. When asked to prioritize legislative issues, 78% of the general public ranked "strengthening laws that require equal pay for equal work among women," as very important, making it the most highly ranked priority.