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Posts from Joshua Newville, a Minnesota employment lawyer, civil rights attorney, and mediator.

The Impact of Sex Discrimination on Women’s Earnings and Career Advancement

Discrimination continues to hamper women in workplaces across the U.S. It’s rare to find a woman who’s worked in the business world for any reasonable time who doesn’t have a story about employment discrimination. Sex discrimination at work affects women in myriad ways, from emotional harm to cold, hard financial impact.

Women working

Gender Pay Gap Remains Stubbornly Consistent

In March 2023, the Pew Research Center released a new study on the gender pay gap. The results were disappointing: In 2002, women earned 80% as much as men; in 2022, women earned 82% of what men earned.

In 20 years, women cut the gap by only 2%. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research predicts that pay equality between men and women won’t happen until at least 2059.

The pay gap gets even wider when you look at statistics on women of color. Latinas earn about 54% of what white men make, Black women get paid 58% as much as white men and Native American women are paid 60 cents on the dollar compared to white men.

The gender pay gap is a complex issue that exists because of many different factors. Sex discrimination plays a large part, according to available research. Additional (and sometimes related) reasons, according to Forbes, include education disparities and parenthood.

Further, women, more often than men, find themselves less available to work overtime due to outside-of-work obligations. Finally, lower pay can become a self-fulfilling prophecy: Employers rely on prior salary history when making compensation decisions, so women have a harder time getting higher wages.

Career Paths Blocked: Women Are Less Likely to Be Promoted

Women’s career advancement is also stymied by sex discrimination and related problems in the workplace. A new study by MIT professor Danielle Li illustrates how women are routinely overlooked for promotions despite outperforming male coworkers.

The study concluded that women were 14% less likely to be promoted than men, even when the women studied earned higher job performance ratings. The study also showed that having female managers did not necessarily help. Tt turned out that the female managers tended to give all employees lower scores, regardless of gender.

This “promotion gap” sometimes results from overt sex discrimination, where a manager simply doesn’t believe women can do the job and therefore promotes a man instead. There are also more subtle discriminatory reasons for the promotion gap.

For example, the MIT study showed that managers of both genders often gave female employees lower “potential scores,” meaning women were viewed as having less potential for success than men. The study concluded that up to 50% of the promotion gap comes from the differences in these potential ratings.

Get Legal Advice About Sex Discrimination

I founded Newville PLC to help companies and employees alike deal with sex discrimination and all other employment law issues. Whether you’re a business owner, executive or employee, you can reach out to me to discuss your concerns and legal options.


Joshua Newville is a Minnesota employment lawyer, civil rights attorney, and mediator. Josh litigates and advises on such matters as wrongful termination, whistleblowers, discrimination, police misconduct, and more. He offers paid legal consultations and free online case reviews regarding employment law and civil rights.

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