Respect Equality

Women in same-gender relationships face larger pay gap than men

(Anon Krudsumlit/EyeEm/Getty Images)

Story at a glance

  • Women in same-gender relationships more often than not take home less pay than men in same-gender relationships or people in opposite-gender relationships, new research suggests.
  • On average, the combined income of married men in same-gender relationships is 31 percent higher than that of married women in same-gender relationships, according to a report from The Hamilton Project.
  • Women in same-gender partnerships face pay gaps based on both their gender and sexuality.

Women in same-gender partnerships in the U.S. are more likely than their male or opposite-gender counterparts to take home less pay, according to new research. Experts say that’s probably because LGBTQ+ women are faced with more than one wage gap.

According to data released by the Census Bureau, same-gender married couples, on average, have higher median household incomes and higher rates of dual employment than opposite-gender married couples.

But when same-gender couples are separated into those with two male and two female partners, labor market outcomes differ vastly, according to an analysis by The Hamilton Project, an economic policy think tank within the Brookings Institution.

On average, the combined income of married men in same-gender relationships is 31 percent higher than that of married women in same-gender relationships and 27 percent higher than the income of married opposite-gender couples, according to the report.


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Unmarried men in same-gender partnerships also take home more pay than women in same-gender relationships or opposite-gender couples, according to the report.

While researchers did not address factors related to income like discrimination by gender, gender identity or sexual orientation, those who identify as LGBTQ+ routinely report higher rates of workplace discrimination.

In a September report by the Williams Institute, nearly 30 percent of LGBTQ+ employees reported experiencing at least one form of employment discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including not being promoted or receiving raises.

A recent analysis published by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation found LGBTQ+ workers in the U.S. earn about $900 per week, representing just 90 percent of what the typical worker earns on a weekly basis. Pay disparities are even more pronounced among LGBTQ+ women of color and transgender women.

Outside the LGBTQ+ community, women in the U.S. in general make just 83 percent of what men earn. At the current rate of progress, the gender pay gap won’t close until 2111, according to the American Association of University Women.

Put together, women in same-gender partnerships face at least two barriers to becoming higher earners: one based on their sexual orientation and one based on their gender. That’s despite the fact that female partnerships are more likely to be dual-income.

“Two women in a couple will experience two gender gaps, and that’s a big part of the difference,” M. V. Lee Badgett, an economics professor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told Axios on Friday, citing the Hamilton Project report.


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