By: Lauren Frohlich, FellowPosted on March 14, 2014 Issues: Workplace

In the data visual representation world, pie charts are often maligned [PDF] as the lesser version of a bar chart. Sure, it can be difficult to grasp precise information when it is presented in pie-form, but pie charts can also be a simple way to compare parts to a whole. Since today is Pi Day (∏=3.14159…= March 14th is 3.14, get it?) I thought it would be a great time to display the power of pie charts when representing proportions. In particular, I’ll show you how women are disproportionately represented in low-wage jobs in three sets of pie charts based on new NWLC analysis of data from the Current Population Survey.

For this analysis, the “low-wage workforce” is defined as the ten largest jobs that typically pay less than $10.10 per hour. These jobs and the percentage of women in each occupation are: childcare workers (95%); home health aides (89%); maids and housekeepers (88%); personal care aides (84%); cashiers (72%); waiters and waitresses (70%); combined food preparers and servers (65%); bartenders (58%); food preparation workers (56%); and hand packers and packagers (49%). As you can see, women make up about half or more of workers in each of these occupations. Now the pie charts will tell the rest:


Women make up less than half of all workers but over three-quarters of workers in the low-wage workforce. This fact has a wide array of implications: it contributes to the wage gap, threatens family economic security, and means that women would greatly benefit from an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.



Women of color make up about one-sixth of the overall workforce but more than one-third of the low-wage workforce. In other words, their share is more than twice as great in the ten largest low-wage jobs as in the overall workforce. In addition to disproportionately working in low-wage jobs, women of color experience alarming wage gaps (African-American women are paid only 64 cents and Hispanic women are paid only 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men) and high rates of poverty.


Many of the jobs that women have gained back during the recovery have been in low-paying jobs. More than one-third (35 percent) of jobs women gained between 2009 and 2013 were in the ten largest low-wage jobs, compared to less than one-fifth (18 percent) of men’s job growth.


These charts make it easy as pie: women and especially women of color are disproportionately represented in the low-wage workforce. A large portion of the jobs women have gained since the end of the recession have been in these low-paying jobs, and we expect this trend of low-wage job growth to continue. The facts speak for themselves: we need to make sure that low-wage jobs pay a living wage and that women are paid the same as men. That will mean more pie for women—and their families!


Sources: Workforce demographics: NWLC calculations based on IPUMS-CPS (2013) for 2012. Classification of 10 largest occupations with median wages of less than $10.10 per hour: BLS, Occupational Employment Statistics.