Sometimes, it feels like we could shout “women are equal to men!” repeatedly until we’re blue in the face, and no one would hear us. There are a lot of areas of life where gender inequality continues to be problematic, but one of the most infuriating is the pay gap between men and women.
However, the good news is that we’re making progress because, bit by bit, the gap is closing — but it’s happening at an excruciatingly slow rate. It’s a battle we’ve been fighting for decades, but as tired as we are, we have to keep pushing because that’s the only way we have a chance of closing the gap entirely.
What Is the Gender Pay Gap?
As discussed, the gender pay gap is the difference in pay between women and men. It’s important to note, though, that there are a lot of averages taken into account to come up with the final number, so there’s a bit of nuance to it. For instance, on average, women tend to make $0.99 for every $1 man makes when they hold the same job with the same experience level (which is still a gap but much less dramatic, at least). Also, this average is for all women compared to all men, and racial inequalities play a significant role in these averages. Finally, the pay gap varies dramatically by industry, with a more substantial gap in male-dominated industries.
A Closer Look at the Data
According to a 2022 report by Payscale, the gender gap varies based on everything from race to age to career level to whether or not someone is a parent.
By race, for every $1 a white man makes:
Indigenous women make $0.71
Asian women make $0.97
Black women make $.079
Hispanic women make $0.78
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women make $0.79
White women make $0.82
For every $1 a man who is a father makes, a woman who is a mother makes $0.74
The gap closes significantly for non-parents to $0.88 for every $1 a man makes
Age widens the gap
Age 20-29, women make $0.86 for every $1 men make
Age 30-44, women make $0.82 for every $1 men make
Age 45+, women make $0.73 for every $1 men make
Individual contributor: women make $0.83 for every $1 men make
Manager/Supervisor: women make $0.84 for every $1 men make
Director: women make $0.84 for every $1 men make
Executive: women make $0.73 for every $1 men make
Arts, entertainment, and recreation: women make $0.96 for every $1 men make
Construction: women make $0.91 for every $1 men make
Technology: women make $0.90 for every $1 men make
Education: women make $0.89 for every $1 men make
Engineering and science: women make $0.88 for every $1 men make
Healthcare: women make $0.86 for every $1 men make
Agencies and consultancies: women make $0.83 for every $1 men make
Finance and insurance: women make $.077 for every $1 men make
How to Close the Gender Pay Gap
While it would be nice to be able to just blame the gender pay gap on the fictitious evil male CEO we’ve all created in our imaginations, it’s not that easy. While, yes, anyone in a corporate leadership position has a significant role in closing the gap, so does every man and every woman. It is an “all hands on deck” situation.
What Employers Can Do
Anyone in a position of power within an organization has a role in closing the gender pay gap at a corporate level. Here are some changes that can help:
Hiring managers can track pay equity within their team of direct reports and advocate for salary increases as needed
Hiring managers should offer the same starting salary to any candidate, regardless of gender
HR should perform regular salary and recruitment audits to ensure there are no apparent trends across departments and job functions (this should include salary and bonuses)
Leadership should practice transparency with employees on pay equity and if necessary, create a task force (with equal representation) to regularly audit and suggest changes as needed
Companies can offer more training programs and advancement options to female employees to ensure more balance across the organization — and pay employees appropriately for their positions/promotions, regardless of gender
Encourage an environment where employees feel safe discussing wages with management and with each other
What Men Can Do
Men have been at a clear advantage for decades, so they all need to step up and support women. Even if they’re not in a leadership position, men yield power and influence, and they need to use it to help women catch up.
Men can do this by ensuring women are credited for their work and ideas. Too often, a woman will speak up in a meeting and her male peers will interrupt or talk over her. Over time, this behavior can result in her being overlooked for projects, promotions, and other opportunities for advancement and growth. Similarly, if they have a strong relationship with a female co-worker who is nervous about negotiating or pushing back in some way, he can offer to help coach her or let her practice with him (just don’t turn it into a mansplaining situation).
Men should also be transparent about what they’re making and speak up if they’re aware of inequalities. They mustn’t simply accept benefiting from the broken system. They have to resist it actively and demand change.
What Women Can Do
For there to be real change, we need to fight for equal pay for ourselves and the women around us. It can’t be a selfish mission. We need to support each other. We can do this by advocating for ourselves and uplifting women in other marginalized groups. If you notice you’re getting paid more than a fellow woman for the same job, and there’s no apparent reason, speak up! The same rule applies if you know a man is making more than a woman for the same job.
Most importantly, you have to keep pushing. Even if you get the raise you deserve, there are likely plenty more women within your organization who did not, so you need to speak up for them, too.
Don’t Give Up
Sometimes you might look at that 18% pay difference and feel deflated, and you may even start to wonder, “what’s the point?”. In those moments, it’s important to remember that we have an 18% gap today instead of the 40% gap they had in 1960 because the women before us kept fighting, even when they were tired and wanted to give up. Maybe the gap won’t close before we all retire, but it’ll be much smaller when our daughters enter the workforce and hopefully gone entirely by the time our granddaughters do. We can’t give up.
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