BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN
According to a 2018 report from the American Association of University Women, women experience $513 billion in lost wages a year due to the pay gap. Women, in general, earn 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. Worse: black women earn only 61 cents to every dollar that white men earn. While progress is being made, it’s not fast: improvements have all but leveled out since the ‘80s.
The Gender Gap is the discrepancy between men and women. The phrase itself is vague and doesn’t specifically connect with any one challenge that women face. This is part two of a three-part series that details one gap, a thought exercise around it and some ideas on overcoming it. This issue’s focus: Pay.
The Pay Gap and the studies around it aren’t new news. From women leaving the workforce to have children, to lacking the confidence to ask for a promotion, it’s a problem that is costing women money. One study through PayScale, an independent research organization tracking the pay gap, shows that women are less likely to have higher-level and higher-paying jobs compared to men.
Their research shows that an equal percentage of men and women start off in lower positions that do not manage people. By mid-career, 47% of men are a manager or higher, and 40% of women reach this level. By late career (45+) 57% of men are managers or higher, and women are holding tight to only 41%. On top of that, 8% of men rise to executive level compared to women’s 3%.
First things first: do you think you’re being hit by the Pay Gap? Look around at other people at work that are in a similar position. Do you know what they are being paid? Have you not gotten a raise in a while, or perhaps when you came on board, you had to fight for your current salary? Or was it lower than you know you’re worth? If so, the Pay Gap probably is affecting you. Here are a few ways you can help yourself and your fellow woman:
The Power of the Internet
Take some time with Google. Check to see what you should be making in the position that you’re in. Lots of industries are taking initiative and publishing salaries, both starting and for those that are farther along in the field. And if there isn’t anything official? Search social media: there has been an uprising of women sharing their salaries – and better, men sharing their salaries. Hop on LinkedIn and ask a connection (preferably, a white male, since they are the group that most studies and “typical pay” are based off of) what they are making. This leads into our next tip…
Do you work with people that are considered your counterparts? Even if they are above or below you, ask. If you need some confidence, take a deep breath and think: this affects no one but the employer, and if you are both doing a similar job, you should be making a similar salary. It won’t cost them money or risk your money to be transparent if there is some kind of gender gap happening at your work.
This ask is different: if you’ve realized that you’re making less than you should be, it might be time for that raise. Take some time to make your case before you ask: write out, much like a resume, what you’ve accomplished since being there – as well as how long it’s been since your last official raise. Keep this list quantitative, not qualitative. You’ve “grown sales by 3%” versus you “do a really great job at your reports.” Keep it concise and specific – and then when you do ask, set a meeting, ask for a specific amount and present your case.
Want to keep chipping away at the Pay Gap? Have conversations with other people in your field about what you make and stop making money out to be a dirty, scary word. We’ll only get what we deserve if we ask.