Seattle Culture

Washington’s Woeful Gender-Pay Gap

Women across the state earn significantly less than men

By Rob Smith March 12, 2024

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This article originally appeared in the July/August 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

Washington state holds the dubious distinction of having the second-largest gender pay gap in the United States.

Women across the state made $18,400 less in average wages than men in 2022. New research from the National Partnership for Women and Families found that only Utah has a larger discrepancy, at $20,649.

Things aren’t improving, either. Research last year as reported by U.S. News & World Report revealed that women in 2021 made only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Using U.S. Census data, the National Partnership found that women across the state in 2022 made only 70 cents for every dollar made by a man.

It’s an issue that Grace Yoo, executive director of the Washington Women’s Commission (an executive branch cabinet agency in the Office of the Governor) is working to address. Gov. Jay Inslee has declared March as “Women Making History Month” across the state.

The commission’s new Activate 3.8 initiative (named to reflect the 3.8 million women who live in Washington state) seeks to emphasize economic empowerment as well as traditional women’s issues such as reproductive rights and safety. Yoo points out that the wage disparity is especially acute in Washington state because major industries such as technology and aerospace have historically been dominated by men.

“We need to account for the next generation and make sure their voices are reflected,” Yoo says.

For Black women, indigenous women, and women of color in Washington, the wage gap is even more dire:

• Latina women are typically paid $35,402 less than white, non-Hispanic men.

• Native American women are typically paid $31,587 less than white, non-Hispanic men.

• Black women are typically paid $28,405 less than white, non-Hispanic men.

• Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander women are typically paid $28,388 less than white, non-Hispanic men.

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