The existence of the gender pay gap between what men and women earn for the same work is nothing new, however the surprising results of a recent survey conducted by Glass Door certainly are.
While most employees are aware of the pay gap, the majority of employees in the seven industrialized nations surveyed believe men and women are paid equally for the same work.
What’s the Reality?
Despite that 60% of women and 78% of men surveyed think both genders are paid equally at their companies, women continue to earn on average just 79% of what men earn for the same job.
Does it get better with age? In fact no, the wage gap between men and women ages 35 to 64 is greater than for younger workers.
The good news is that the gap has narrowed since the 1970s when women earned just 59% on average of what men made. The bad news is that estimates show it will take another 81 to 100 years before the gap fully closes.
Who Does it Hurt?
Pay gaps don’t only hurt women and their earning potential, it’s bad for employers as well.
Companies lose out on a key percentage of the talent pool if they’re perceived as having pay gaps. Over two-thirds of employees won’t apply for jobs where they feel a gender pay gaps exists, according to the Glass Door survey. Companies with transparent and equal compensation practices have a much better chance of attracting valuable employees.
What Can You Do?
There are steps women can take to increase earnings and help close the pay gap:
- Negotiate from the get-go. The first step is negotiating during the hiring process. Many women won’t even ask for more money, they sit back and accept the first offer made – leaving potentially thousands on the table. Men on the other hand typically ask for more, whether they expect to actually get it or not.
- Don’t stop there. Another missed opportunity for women is not asking for more money over the course of their career. Men are four times more likely than women to ask for a raise. Asking for more is a scary undertaking for many women, but if you don’t ask, you likely won’t get it.
What Can Help Close the Gap?
The Glass Door survey also showed what many workers see as viable solutions for narrowing the gap. 45% of U.S. employees surveyed believe the answer is new company policies on compensation and pay.
Many also feel that more government legislation on equal pay for equal work will help close or end the pay gap. In January President Obama made an announcement outlining new rules on how companies report how much employees are paid; this could be one more step in the right direction.
The National Committee on Pay Equality (NCPE) advises individuals to contact your Senator and House Representative to let them know how important you find equal pay to be, and ask them to co-sponsor bills in Congress that support fair pay.
How Can You Raise Awareness?
Women can raise awareness by celebrating Equal Pay Day on Tuesday, April 12th. According to the NCPE this is how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. They encourage women to show their support by wearing red that day to demonstrate how far “in the red” women are with equal pay.
The gender pay gap is not a myth, it is a frank reality women employees live with every day. Though it currently looks like this issue will continue for several more generations, there is hope that by speaking out, creating awareness and choosing equal-pay employers we can see the gap close in our own life-time.