Where do women receive the most equal pay in the US and around the world?
Equal pay for equal work is a concept that we can all pretty much agree on. However, despite huge improvements over recent decades in gender equality, making the workplace more accessible and breaking the glass ceiling that women and minorities have often faced, the gender pay gap still persists to this day.
While the pay gap continues to mean women are often paid less than their male counterparts, it varies substantially depending on your place of work, industry, and the country or state you’re living in. These regional differences can make location an important factor for women who are willing to relocate for their careers.
With this in mind, here at Lensa have conducted a study to reveal the countries and US states that have the largest gender pay gaps. Hopefully, this resource can be used to help women get the most out of their job search by highlighting the best places for fair and equal pay.
America’s gender pay gap
While the gender pay gap can vary considerably from country to country, it can also be quite different depending on which state you live in. In this section we will compare all 50 US states, looking at the median earnings for men and women, revealing the states with the highest and lowest gender pay gaps.
The states with the most equal pay
These are the states with the smallest gender pay gap, where the median earnings of men and women are the closest. Will your home state make the top 10?
- Vermont Gender Pay Gap: 8.98%
Vermont is the state with the smallest gender pay gap of 8.98%, making it the best place in the country for equal pay. Here, the median male earnings stand at $51,241, while the median earnings for women are $46,641, a real-terms gap of $4,600. While this is the lowest gap in the country it still represents a substantial difference in the pay that men and women receive.
- Maryland Gender Pay Gap: 11.80%
Maryland has the second smallest gender pay gap in the United States at 11.80%. Male workers in this East Coast state receive median earnings of $64,334, while their female counterparts receive $56,740. Women looking to move around the country for better pay could do a lot worse than searching for a new role in Baltimore, the largest city in the state.
- California Gender Pay Gap: 12.46%
The third lowest gender pay gap is found in California and stands at 12.46%. Female workers in the Golden State earn a median annual salary of $50,313, while male workers take home $57,475, a difference of $7,162. California is a hotbed of innovation, technology, and entertainment, generating huge numbers of jobs and attracting workers from all over the world. With a reputation as a more progressive state, women in California can expect to receive much better pay than in other parts of the country.
The states with the biggest gender pay gap
Unfortunately, not all states have made equal progress in reducing the pay gap between men and women as there is a difference of 26.64% between the largest statewide gender pay gap and the smallest. So, here are the states where women are most likely to make less than their male coworkers.
- Wyoming Gender Pay Gap: 36.62%
The state with the biggest gender pay gap in the country is Wyoming, where it stands at a huge 36.62%. Here, the median earnings for a male worker are $59,196, whereas a female worker could expect to take home just $37,520, a difference of $21,676. As the state with the most unequal pay between the sexes, Wyoming may find it difficult to attract female talent from other parts of the country.
- Utah Gender Pay Gap: 30.23%
Utah has the second highest gender pay gap at 30.23%. Male workers in Utah take home a median salary of $57,247 while women take home a median pay of $39,944, leaving a gap of $17,303.
- Louisiana Gender Pay Gap: 28.72%
The third largest gender pay gap of 28.72% can be found in Louisiana, making it one of the worst locations for unequal pay. Here, the median earnings for women are $37,050, while median earnings for men stand at $51,976, which is a difference of $14,926.
The gender pay gap around the globe
For those with a lust for travel and the bravery to live and work in another country, pursuing a career abroad could be rewarding in more ways than one. The gender pay gap varies wildly on the international stage, meaning women could reduce the burden of the pay gap considerably while enjoying the adventure of a lifetime in another country and culture.
However, there are some parts of the world where the gender pay gap is much wider than it is in the US, so make sure to use our handy guide to check your ex-pat destination pays women what they deserve. We’ve looked specifically at OECD countries, as they offer the most job opportunities for international workers from developed economies.
The countries with the smallest gender pay gap
Here we can see the countries where the gender pay gap is the lowest, meaning men and women are paid much more equally than elsewhere around the world. Is your home country or potential expat destination in the top 10?
- Romania Gender Pay Gap: 0.88%
Romania is the country with the smallest gender pay gap at just 0.88%, making the country a great place for women in the workplace. Plenty of English-speaking job opportunities exist in the country’s capital and largest city, Bucharest, which is also a beautiful place to visit, steeped in rich history and brilliant architecture.
- Bulgaria Gender Pay Gap: 2.55%
Bulgaria has the second smallest gender pay gap in the OECD at 2.55%, while also being the second Eastern European country to make the list. Bulgaria is a large Balkan country with a relatively small population and a low cost of living, meaning it could be the perfect destination for ex-pats who want their equal pay to go even further. The capital Sofia is the best place to start looking for ex-pat jobs, while also being a fantastic place to visit as a tourist.
- Belgium Gender Pay Gap: 3.80%
Belgium is the country with the third lowest pay gap in our study at 3.80%. Home to the de facto capital of the European Union, Brussels, Belgium has many English-speaking jobs available. This Northern European country is also connected to the Eurostar, making travel to the UK incredibly easy, while also having excellent transport links to neighboring European countries.
The largest gender pay gaps in the OECD
At the bottom end of the scale, these are the countries with the largest gender pay gaps, meaning women are underpaid and earning much less than their male colleagues on average.
- South Korea Gender Pay Gap: 31.06%
South Korea has the largest pay gap of all the OECD nations at 31.06%. South Korean society is very different from typical western culture, placing a strong emphasis on tradition, family, and group harmony. With more traditional attitudes towards the roles that people play in society, the country still lags behind in closing the gender pay gap and achieving equal pay. That said, South Korea is a very popular destination for ex-pats, many of whom become English teachers, one of the most common jobs available for native English speakers.
- Israel Gender Pay Gap: 24.32%
Israel is the country with the second largest gender pay gap at 24.32%. The largest cities in the country are Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, which is where you’ll find most of the jobs available for ex-pats. Israel is popular both as a party destination and for the area’s historical and religious sites.
- Latvia Gender Pay Gap: 23.22%
The third largest gender pay gap of 23.22% can be found in Latvia. While this Baltic country might not be the best in terms of equal pay, it is another very popular destination for ex-pat workers and offers a competitively low cost of living. The capital city of Riga is where you’ll find most of the international jobs, as well as friendly ex-pat communities to help you settle in.
We wanted to investigate the size of the gender pay gap in different parts of the world, as well as different areas of the United States.
We used OECD data to compare the gender pay gap in different developed economies, revealing the countries where the gap is largest and smallest. As the data was not complete for any one year, we took the most recent figures for each country, going back as far as 2018. Luxembourg was excluded from our results as the most recent data from the country was dated from 2014, meaning the figures could have changed substantially since then.
To compare the gender pay gap in US states, we used data from the United States Census Bureau, which revealed the median salaries of men and women in each state. We then used this data to calculate the percent difference between each sex’s median earnings, as well as presenting the real terms difference in dollars.