The Wage Gap and Literacy: How Men and Women Compare

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folderThe Institute for Women’s Policy Research, having recently analyzed data from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, reports that low-literacy males earn more on average than their female counterparts. While the wage gap has long been known to exist between the sexes, it is most prominent between members with low literacy levels.

The assessment discovered that low-literacy males have double the chances of earning above $650 per week than females at the same level of literacy. Low-literacy females are two times as likely as low-literacy males to earn a weekly income within the lowest earnings bracket, $300 per week or less. Overall, males of all literacy levels earn 23 percent higher wages, on average, than females of all literacy levels.

The literacy wage gap is further pronounced due to the prevalence of adults with low levels of literacy. Over 36 percent of males and 33 percent of females have low literacy skills. The data indicate that a female must achieve higher literacy rates in order to compete with males with lower literacy in regards to weekly wages. While adult literacy programs, remedial programs, and other forms of adult education help to enable workers of both sexes to earn more sustainable wages, the wage gap is present at all educational levels.

Dr. Kevin Miller, a Senior Research Associate at the Institute stated, “Low literacy doesn’t discriminate—both men and women need programs like adult and basic education to help them gain the skills that lead to family-sustaining wages—but the gender wage gap means that women start a step behind.

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Rachel, writer for, has graduate level work in literature and currently works in university administration.