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gender pay gap

One of the most pressing concerns for the economy today is the gender pay gap. Different sources will give different figures, but almost all data shows that on average women get paid less than men. This is true across occupations, education levels and age. The good news is that data also shows that this gender pay gap is shrinking. In fact, in some cities the gender pay gap has almost disappeared. Below we look at the cities where the gender pay gap has closed the fastest.

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In order to find the places where the gender pay gap is shrinking the fastest, SmartAsset analyzed data on incomes for full-time working men and women. To see where we got our data and how we put it together, check out our data and methodology section below.

Key Findings

  • There’s good news – The pay gap is shrinking in 53% of cities that we examined. A common theme among cities where the gender pay gap is shrinking the fastest is having full-time working women with growing earnings. In only two of the cities where the gender pay gap shrunk did women not see their median incomes rise from 2015 to 2016. In fact, in six out of the top 10 places where the gender pay gap has shrunk the most, women saw incomes rise over 10%, on average.
  • There’s also bad news – Different cities saw the gender pay gap shrink for different reasons. As mentioned above, in most places the growing pay equality was due to increased female pay (awesome!). However, some places saw lackluster growth for women and negative growth for men. In Paradise, Nevada for example, women’s incomes grew only 4% while men’s incomes dropped 5%.
  • Upward momentum – In order to crack this top 10 you needed to have started in a less-than-ideal position, gender pay gap speaking. For example, the average gender pay gap in our top 10 in 2015 was 80%. This gives them plenty of room to improve. In cities where the gender pay gap was already small, like Detroit (the gender pay gap was 92% in 2015), scoring well on this study may have been difficult.

Gender Pay Gap Shrinking

1. Arlington, Texas

Lying in between Dallas and Fort Worth is Arlington, Texas. This city is chock full of activity including being the home of the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Cowboys and the Dallas Wings.

Women in Arlington had a very productive period from 2015 to 2016. Our data shows that full-time female workers here saw their median incomes rise by almost 12%. At the same time full-time working men saw median incomes drop 4%. That has led to the gender pay gap in Arlington almost disappearing. Our data shows that full-time working women now make 98.7% of what full-time working men make in Arlington. That is up 14.1 percentage points from the year before.

2. Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Winston-Salem has the second-fastest shrinking gender pay gap in the study. According to our data, the 2016 gender pay gap in Winston-Salem was only 97.4%. In 2015 that figure was 84.1%. This means the gender pay gap closed by over 13% in just one year.

This is of course good news, but if given the option one imagines the city of Winston-Salem would have preferred to close the pay gap by different means. The biggest reason for the pay gap closing in Winston-Salem was declining median income for men. According to our data, working men’s incomes dropped by 9%, on average.

3. Chesapeake, Virginia

The two cities above Chesapeake saw their gender pay gaps closing to the point of almost not existing. Chesapeake on the other hand went from having a terrible gender pay gap to a slightly better one.

In 2015, the average full-time working woman in Chesapeake earned 74% of what the average full-time working man did. From 2015 to 2016, full-time working women’s median pay increased enough to bring that gap to 87.2%.

4. Lubbock, Texas

Median incomes for both male and female full-time workers in Lubbock rose from 2015 to 2016. However women, on average, received a much larger raise than men which helped to decrease the gender pay gap.

From 2015 to 2016 women’s median earnings went from $31,000 to $36,100. That’s an increase of about 15%. The gender pay gap in Lubbock went from 76% to 86.5%, over the same time frame.

5. Sacramento, California

We previously found that Sacramento is a great place for diversity in STEM. According to our data, Sacramento went from having a gender pay gap of 87% in 2015 (meaning the average full-time working women earned 87% of what the average full-time working man did) to having a gender pay gap of 97.7% in 2016.

That gives Sacramento the fourth-smallest gender pay gap in our top 10.

6. Fremont, California

In general Fremont women are high earners thanks to the availability of tech jobs. According to our data, in 2016 the average full-time working woman in Fremont earned over $70,000 per year. But that number still paled in comparison to men’s median earnings. In 2016, the average full-time working man in Fremont earned over $91,000 per year. That gives Fremont a gender pay gap of 77%.

While that’s still a large pay gap, it’s a vast improvement on earlier years. In 2015, the average full-time working woman earned only 68% of what men earned.

7. Paradise, Nevada

Like men in Winston-Salem, working men in Paradise saw their median incomes drop from 2015 to 2016. While men’s incomes fell, women’s median incomes rose. From 2015 to 2016, the average full-time working woman in Paradise went from earning $34,000 to $35,500.

The good news for Paradise women is that their median earnings are now the same as their male counterparts. (According to our data, full-time working men in Paradise earn $35,500 on average.)

8. (tie) Tampa, Florida

In 2016, Tampa women’s median earnings were around 88% of men’s median earnings. That’s an 8.3% improvement from the year before.

Women’s median income rose 7%, while men’s median incomes dropped. Both men and women benefit from the fact that Florida has no income tax, giving both their paychecks a boost.

8. (tie) Garland, Texas

Like other Texas cities in this list, median incomes in Garland are on the rise. The biggest beneficiaries of rising incomes in Garland have been women. From 2015 to 2016, the median income for women in Garland rose by 10%.

According to Census data, the gender gap in Garland closed by 8.3% from 2015 to 2016. In 2016, it sat at 95.6%.

10. Chandler, Arizona

Our list ends in Chandler, Arizona. While women in Chandler earn a fairly sizable amount ($46,000 on average), men vastly outearn them. Men in Chandler earn over $60,000 per year, on average. However, that is starting to change.

From 2015 to 2016, the gender pay gap closed by 7.8%, with women’s incomes rising and men’s incomes dropping.

gender pay gap

Data and Methodology

In order to find the cities where the pay gap is shrinking the fastest, SmartAsset analyzed data for the 100 largest cities in the country. Specifically, we looked at data across the following two metrics:

  • 2015 gender pay gap. This is full-time working women’s median income as a percent of full-time working men’s median income. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2015 1-year American Community Survey.
  • 2016 gender pay gap. This is full-time working women’s median income as a percent of full-time working men’s median income. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2016 1-year American Community Survey.

We found the cities with the largest difference between their 2016 and 2015 pay gaps. We measured this in percentage point difference and ranked them from largest to smallest. Since we looked for gender pay equality, we subtracted the difference over 100% for any city in which women were paid more than men.

Tips for Getting Paid What You’re Worth

  • If you’re asking for a raise, it helps to have a specific number in mind to guide the conversation. But that number has to come from somewhere. Do plenty of homework so you know what others at your level are being paid.
  • You don’t necessarily need to disclose that number upfront though. It can be a good idea to wait until your manager suggests a number. If that number is higher than what you were expecting, congratulations. If the number is lower, you can begin trying to negotiate up.
  • You may have to take an outside offer to get the pay increase you deserve. If you take a new job across the country, you’ll want to use our cost of living calculator to compare the cities. Taking a pay increase is not helpful if you end up using it all to pay higher costs of living.
  • Keep in mind income taxes matter, as well. By moving from somewhere like Massachusetts to somewhere like Nevada, you can save a decent chunk just on income taxes.

Questions about our study? Contact us at

Photo credit: ©

Derek Miller, CEPF® Derek Miller is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh where he studied economics. He is passionate about using data to help people make better financial decisions. Derek is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. He is a data journalist whose expertise is in finding the stories within the numbers. Derek's writing has been featured on Yahoo, AOL, and Huffington Post. He believes the biggest financial mistake people make is waiting too late to save for retirement and missing out on the wonders of compounding interest. Derek lives in Brooklyn.
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