Low Literacy Impacts Women’s Wages More Than Men’s, According To Study

Brushing up on the books can help working moms earn more money, according to a new study by the Institute of Women’s Policy Research. Men with low literacy levels earn more — sometimes double — than women with comparable skills. And while women of all levels of literacy earn less than men, the gap is most discernable between men and women of low literacy levels.

“Women trying to support themselves and their families need to obtain even higher levels of literacy, education, and job skills in order to make the same amount of money as men,” said Jane Henrici, Ph.D., Study Director at IWPR and co-author of the fact sheet on literacy.

About one-third of Americans have low levels of literacy (36.4% of men and 33.3% of women). Adult remedial programs with a strong focus on literacy can help both men and women to earn better wages. “Low literacy doesn’t discriminate,” said Kevin Miller, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate at IWPR and co-author of the fact sheet. “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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