With the current gender pay gap, women in the U.S. make about 82% of what men make. In the U.S. military, however, this gap does not exist, at least at the basic level. Because basic pay structure is based on pay grade and time in service, service members receive equal base pay regardless of their gender.
Women are, however, vastly underrepresented in the military. While about 46.6% of the total American workforce is made up of women, only 17.3% of active-duty service members are women. This represents the highest share of women that has ever been in the force, and this percentage has been rising steadily in recent years, both in the enlisted and commissioned ranks. (Here are female veterans who changed U.S. history.)
To find how many women serve in the different U.S. military branches and at different pay grades, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the Department of Defense report 2021 Demographics, Profile of the Military Community. Pay grades per branch are ranked by the upper pay range and then by the percentage of women serving in that category, both from low to high. All data are from the report. It is important to note that there are no warrant officers in the Air Force and the Space Force, and that pay depends on rank and years of service.
The highest numbers of women are in the junior enlisted ranks (E1-E4) in the Army, Navy, and Air Force, which each employ over 28,000 women and pay an annual salary of $21,276 to $36,472. In terms of share, the highest percentage of women are employed as Air Force company grade officers (O1-O3), which includes ensigns, first and second lieutenants, and captains, and pays an annual salary of $43,646 to $94,687.
The smallest shares of women are in the ranks of warrant officers and commissioned officers in the Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marines in the ranks of major to four star generals. Overall, the Marine Corps has a smaller share of women than any other branch in the military. (Take a look at the countries with the most women serving in the military.)
Click here to see how many women serve in each military pay grade, compared to men.
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