New research in Gender & Society shows that women face a benefit gap as well as a pay gap. News we need just in time for Equal Pay Day.

New research in Gender & Society shows that women face a benefit gap as well as a pay gap. News we need just in time for Equal Pay Day. For more info ask the author, Leslie Hodges @lb_hodges, or Gender & Society Editor @bjrisman,

Gender & Society


CONTACT: Barbara J. Risman


News for Equal Pay Day: Women’s occupations offer fewer benefits—not just lower pay

Today is Equal Pay Day in the United States. This is the day we begin to observe that (all) women, on average, must work three months into the new year to earn the same thing that (all) men earn in the prior year, because in 2019 they earned 82 cents for every dollar men made. For (all) moms, Equal Pay Day is June 4 (70 cents). For African American women, Equal Pay Day is August 13 (62 cents); and for Latinx women, the date is October 29 (54 cents). New research shows that it is actually worse than this, because it isn’t just pay that women are shorted. They are shorted decent benefits.

Chicago, IL, March 31, 2020: A study released today by Gender & Society, a top-ranked social science journal, establishes that workers in women-dominated jobs get fewer benefits, including employer-provided health insurance coverage and retirement plans. The recognition of Equal Pay Day means that many understand the well-established fact that workers in women-dominated jobs get paid less than those in men-dominated jobs. This new study shows that the disadvantages are even greater than previously thought.


The data. The study, conducted by Leslie Hodges at the University of Wisconsin, relied on three major datasets: the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey, the American Community Survey, and the Occupational Information Network. Focal information came from the household component of the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey, which includes nationally representative data from 2007-2013 about employer-provided health insurance coverage, sick leave and retirement plans. Hodges’ analysis included 34,698 people who worked full time in year-round jobs.


No, women don’t get better benefits to compensate for lower pay. Hodges found that women-dominated jobs not only pay less, they provide fewer benefits such as health insurance coverage and retirement plans. Even though the Equal Pay Act of 1963 turns 57 this year, the research replicated the well-known finding that the more women there are in an occupation, the lower the wages. One classical economic claim to justify wage inequality has been that women choose these jobs, because the benefits are better and compensate for the lower pay. Yet this new study shows that simply is not the case.


The research has vital implications for social policy. Women are half our labor force; they are indispensable family breadwinners, yet women and their families are disadvantaged both by a gender gap in wages as well as benefits. “Around the world, and in the U.S., during this pandemic and incipient recession, we are feeling the acute pain where safety nets and resources are limited. Today’s study reminds us that those limitations on security are not gender blind. We must do better,” observes Gender & Society editor Barbara Risman.




The article, “Do Female Occupations Pay Less But Offer More Benefits?” by Leslie Hodges is published in  Gender & Society. The article is available for a limited time at (link). For more information, contact June Macon, attn: JM, at


Hodges, Leslie.  2020. “Do Female Occupations Pay Less But Offer More Benefits?” Gender & Society.  Forthcoming. Available for review now at


AUTHOR CONTACT/BIO: Leslie Hodges is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin – Madison who studies how families make ends meet. She specializes in the use of survey and administrative data to examine patterns in employment, health, and wellbeing for different population groups and to inform evidence-based policy making on public programs including child support, unemployment insurance, and SNAP. You can contact her at Twitter: @lb_hodges.

ABOUT: Gender & Society is a peer-reviewed journal, focused on the study of gender. It is the official journal of Sociologists for Women in Society and was founded in 1987 as an outlet for feminist social science. Currently, it is a top-ranked journal in both sociology and women’s studies. Gender & Society, a journal of Sage Publications, publishes less than seven percent of all papers submitted to it. For more information, contact Gender & Society Editor Barbara J. Risman, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Twitter: @Gend_Soc, @bjrisman.

Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS), founded in 1969, is a nonprofit, scientific and educational organization with more than 1,000 members in the United States and overseas. For more information, contact Dr. Barret Katuna, SWS Executive Officer, at Twitter: @socwomen.