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Research Confirms Pay Gap in Milwaukee, Waukesha Counties

Women continue to trail their male counterparts in annual earnings Read the entire report here.



When the Women’s Leadership Collaborative launched in April of 2019, we made a commitment to address pay equity as a collective and unified voice. One of the ways we pledged to do so was by conducting local research on the gender pay gap. This winter, we commissioned the nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum to examine wages by gender in Milwaukee and Waukesha County for the first-time ever.

Today, the Wisconsin Policy Forum published the WLC-funded report: “Milwaukee’s Gender Pay Gap Narrows But Persists.” We do not celebrate this headline, however, we are now better equipped to move our outreach and advocacy forward – specifically drilling down to occupational groups with the largest gaps, working toward equal representation in top executive positions, and concerting additional efforts to lift women of color who experience the lowest median earnings overall.


We do not celebrate this headline, however, we are now better equipped to move our outreach and advocacy forward.

Read the report here. Key findings from the Wisconsin Policy Forum include:


  • The gender pay gap persists but is slowly narrowing. In 2018, the median annual earnings of women who work full-time in Milwaukee County was about 85% of the median among men, which is a slight improvement from 2010, when women's median earnings were about 81% of their male counterparts. The gap also closed somewhat nationally during that time.

  • Women remain underrepresented in some higher-wage occupations. For example, only 20% of Milwaukee County residents employed in architecture and engineering occupations and 21% of those in computer and mathematical occupations are women.

  • Pay differences vary widely by occupational group. In Milwaukee County, women earn less than men in all 23 occupational groups we examined, but the largest pay gaps are in legal; construction and extraction; and protective service occupations, where women’s median earnings are less than 70% of men’s.

  • In many cases, women are underrepresented in positions that pay the highest wages within each occupational group. For example, in Milwaukee County, 87% of judges, magistrates, and other judicial workers and 60% of lawyers and judicial law clerks are male, while 81% of lower-paid legal support workers (paralegals, legal assistants, etc.) are female.


What can you do? We encourage you to read the interactive report and share it with your network including human resources executives and senior leadership teams. It is not possible for women alone to close the gender pay gap, but better data and analysis such as this study will help us have discussions with decision and policymakers. The WLC’s work to tackle pay equity from all angles continues.

About the Women's Leadership Collaborative (WLC): The WLC was established in April 2019 and is a collective of Milwaukee Women inc, Professional Dimensions and TEMPO Milwaukee. Our three organizations formed the WLC in the spirit of collaboration and with the notion that one voice is stronger than multiple voices on select important issues. We plan to address all instances of disparity but are focusing on pay equity as our first major issue. Together we represent approximately 1,000 professional women in the Milwaukee area.

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