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Chicago's Gender Pay Gap

In Chicago, the pay gap has gotten worse for women in tech jobs over the last decade—and remains abysmal for legal jobs. 

Tech and legal professions are two important industries in Chicago with notable gender pay gaps. This article defines the wage gap as the ratio of median earnings for women over men. Based on the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the median earnings and gap figures are for full-time, year-round civilian workers. 

As the chart on the right shows, the pay gap in computer and math became significantly worse in the last ten years from .93 to .87.

In addition to tech, legal has the worst wage gap compared to all other occupations. While legal has always had the highest wage gap of any occupation in Chicago, it has worsened slightly from .60 to .57 in the last four years.

—Paulina Phelps, Editor at LiveStories

The tech pay gap on the national level is still slightly worse than Chicago's. 

While Chicago's wage gap in tech got worse in the last decade, at the national level it stayed about the same. Despite Chicago's wage gap worsening, the U.S. wage gap is still about a cent lower than Chicago's. 

What would a second Amazon headquarters in Chicago look like for women in tech?

While the average women's wage gap in tech are similar between the two cities, Seattle men and women tech workers alike make much more than tech workers do in Chicago. As the chart on the right shows, the median earnings between 2011-2015 for Seattle women in tech was $87,118—in Chicago, that figure was $67,431.




While Chicago doesn't have as big of a tech sector as other cities like San Francisco and Seattle, there is buzz that it might be Amazon's chosen destination for their second headquarters—which would radically transform Chicago. 

Despite the excitement around this potential move, as a woman there may not be much of a reason to choose Chicago over Seattle as they currently both have about the same wage gap in tech (women make one cent more in Chicago than in Seattle). 

Median earnings in Chicago's legal field has stayed about the same in the last decade. 

When considering the wage gap in Chicago, legal occupations stand out as it is the worst of any other profession. The pay gap for legal occupations has remained the same over the last decade. 

Between 2006-2010 and 2011-2015 median earnings for men in legal professions increased slightly from $131,740 to $135,280. Women's earnings decreased slightly from $77,006 to $75,363. 


In the last decade, the legal wage gap in Chicago has stayed about the same—and remains still higher than US.  

In Chicago's legal industry the wage gap has gotten slightly worse in the past decade. Women used to make on average 0.60 for every dollar men make. The most recent five-year estimate shows this figure has shrank to 0.57. As for the US, the gap has stayed relatively the same at about 0.50. 

Despite the wage gap getting slightly worse in Chicago, it is still more equitable than the current pay gap for legal occupations in the US. 

Explore the data for Chicago's pay gap.

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About the Data

The data comes from the American Community Survey 5-year estimate data on “Sex by occupation and median earnings in the past 12 months.” The values are given in 2014 inflation-adjusted dollars. The data in this survey covers the full-time, year-round, employed civilians, 16 years and over. Unless otherwise noted, figures are shown for the 5-year estimate spanning 2011-2015.