Skip to main content

Case Study

Gender & Racial Pay Inequities During COVID-19

Measuring and exploring gender and racial pay inequities during COVID-19 and the economic crisis.

The TIME’S UP Foundation insists upon a world where everyone is safe and respected at work. A world where women have an equal shot at success and security. A world where no one lives in fear of sexual harassment or assault.

In 2020, they commissioned us to conduct a national survey of adults ages 18 to 64 on experiences and perceptions related to pay inequities. The survey provides breadth and depth on the topic – from insights into past experiences to struggles during COVID-19 to fears and expectations for the future.

Expertise & Services Provided

  • Qualitative insights on how COVID-19 is impacting diverse segments
  • Questionnaire development
  • Data collection management
  • Topline document
  • Survey crosstabs / banners
  • Detailed analysis of inequities and experiences among often overlooked segments of the US population – namely women of color
  • Final report
  • Calls to go over findings with client
  • Calls with media to explain findings

The Objectives

The overall objective was to measure and explore gender and racial pay inequities during the COVID-19 and economic crises. Another goal was to help shift the narratives around the economic crisis by drawing attention to the disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx women and the root causes of gender and racial pay inequities.

We also wanted to shine a light on the solutions to pay inequities and wealth gaps – from the voices of women themselves: What do they need in order to be financially secure and healthy? Turns out a lot. Which is not a surprise given the vast gaps that still exist in wealth and income.

What we wanted to learn:

  • How are gender pay gaps manifesting right now? What are the effects of the gender and racial wealth gaps?
  • How are pay inequities affecting people’s lives during COVID-19 and the financial crisis?
  • What do people think causes the pay gap?
  • What are their experiences with factors that drive pay inequities?
  • What benefits and solutions do people say they need?
  • Will the crises help narrow the pay gap or widen it?

Process & Approach

The survey was built on years of public opinion research among diverse communities related to gender and race equity. Because of our unique expertise in the policy arenas related to gender and public opinion on the topic, we know the questions to ask to get at the heart of the issues. We also challenge ourselves with every questionnaire to think outside the box and ask new questions. Given the current environment, we asked how often people have “cried themselves to sleep” during COVID-19. Turns out – not an insignificant proportion, including 37% of Latinx women doing so on a weekly basis, and one in four men, who have cried themselves to sleep at least once since the pandemic hit.

We spent hours analyzing the data – but even more time figuring out how to present the data in the easiest, most digestible, and compelling way.

Key Results

White men are the most certain to think equal pay exists at their job, while having the least exposure to and experience with barriers. The data also suggests the coronavirus crisis is disproportionately affecting women’s mental and emotional health.

  • 50% of Black and Latinx women ages 18 to 64 can’t afford to pay for basic needs right now – like food and housing
  • 55% of Black women have less than $200 in savings right now – versus 27% of white men
  • 60% of Latinx women have less than $200 in savings right now – versus 27% of white men
  • 44% of women ages 18 to 64 are feeling “panic or severe anxiety” on a daily or weekly basis since the pandemic hit
  • 44% of women say they’ve cried themselves to sleep at least once since COVID-19
  • 58% of women have faced one or more gender or race-based obstacles in pay equity

Black and Latinx women struggle especially to buy food and build savings amid COVID-19.

Latinx women are:

  • Most likely to report having lost a job, hours, or pay since COVID-19
  • Least certain they’ll have a job that pays what they were making before COVID-19 (37% very sure)
  • Most likely to have to leave home for work during the pandemic (61%)
  • Most likely to say they were caring for a sick or elderly loved one prior to COVID-19 (29%)
  • Most likely to be experiencing feelings of hopelessness or depression (53% once a week or more often)

Black women are:

  • Among the most likely to have faced gender or race-based discrimination or obstacles to pay equity (55%)
  • Most likely to say someone at work has implied they don’t work as hard as others because of their race, gender, or caregiving responsibilities (40%)
  • Most likely to be in charge of unpaid labor at home and likely to be doing all or most of the work
  • Most likely to have taken their current job because they had no other good choices (27%)
  • Least certain their current employer pays men and women equally (17% very sure)

In the Press

The study was picked up by USA Today and Refinery29 where many of the stories and results were highlighted.