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Undervalued and underpaid in America

The deck is stacked against millions of working women

The gender segregation of the workforce (in the US and globally) has meant, in general, that women are concentrated in jobs that pay lower wages. The bad news is that it’s getting worse for women. In the next decade, low-wage women’s jobs will increase at one and a half times the rate of all other jobs. Even more women will be faced with the need to take jobs that undervalue their education and skills, undercompensate their contributions, and exact heavy physical and emotional costs.

This study explores the millions of low-wage jobs where women are concentrated. These “low-wage women’s” jobs meet four criteria: most workers are women; the median wage is under $15 an hour; at least 100,000 women do the job; and the number of jobs will grow in the next 20 years.

We found 22 low-wage women’s work jobs; of the 23.5 million workers doing these jobs, 81 percent are women (19 million). And they are a big segment of the larger workforce: they account for over a quarter of all women’s employment, and 64 percent of women’s low-wage employment.

This report is an executive summary of a longer report from Oxfam and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). 

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