Gender Wage Gap Has Cost Women $61 Trillion, Study Says

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June 8, 2023

Seher Khawaja, Legal Momentum's Deputy Legal Director and Senior Attorney for Economic Empowerment, was quoted in Law 360's coverage of the report released by the Center for American Progress that women have collectively lost $61 trillion because of the gender pay gap over the last five decades. 


Seher Khawaja, senior attorney for economic empowerment at Legal Momentum, said one of her biggest concerns is the "very sizable and stagnant" pay disparity for women of color, which she said requires new thinking and new policies beyond the Equal Pay Act.

"It's such an important law, it's such a necessary law, but it's largely insufficient to address the gender pay gap and the persistent inequity that we're still seeing, largely because so much of it hinges on putting the onus on women and those who are suffering from the pay gap to really seek accountability," Khawaja told Law360.

Something that's been critical, she said, is pay transparency legislation, which has sprung up in cities and states across the country to require employers to disclose information about employee compensation, placing more of the accountability onto companies rather than workers. Policymakers also need to seriously consider raising the minimum wage, Khawaja said, and in particular should consider increasing wages in female-dominated sectors that often have lower pay rates, such as nursing, education and child care.

"Typically, the majority of minimum-wage workers are women, the majority of tipped-wage workers are women," she said. "They're working very difficult jobs oftentimes, often juggling so many family care obligations, and they're making appalling wages."