MONEY salary

5 Ways Women Can Close the Pay Gap for Themselves

woman standing at bottom of steps with man standing above her
iStock

New Census data found that women earn 78¢ to every $1 men do. These moves can help you get closer to even on your own paycheck.

If you have two X chromosomes and a job, the latest numbers on the wage gap will likely leave you feeling frustrated: Women make only 78¢ for every dollar a man makes, the Census just reported, marking all of a 1¢ improvement over 2012.

Meanwhile, Republican senators blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act this week, which called for greater salary transparency and would have required employers to be able to prove that wage differences were based on factors other than gender.

Overcoming the barriers to equal pay isn’t proving to be easy. And there are some factors we can’t move the needle on as individuals. For example, childbearing counts against us, in what economists have dubbed the “motherhood penalty.” We pay both a per-child wage penalty and also may be dunned for working fewer hours because of our caregiving responsibility. And then there’s straight-up discrimination, which is very hard to prove despite being so palpable to many of us at certain moments in our careers. (Perhaps this explains why one study found that 41% of the pay gap is unexplained!)

Closing the gap a penny at a time is still progress. But for those of you who don’t want to—or can’t—wait around until 2058 to see equal pay, here are five strategies to at least get you closer to even with your XY counterparts.

1. Negotiate smarter…

Working women have heard it all before: We’re not aggressive enough in asking for higher pay; we are bad at negotiating. But if do negotiate aggressively, well, that gets held against us.

But we’ve got to find a way to make it work for us if we want to get paid a fair wage.

So what can we do? Hannah Riley Bowles, a senior lecturer in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School who has done research on what makes women successful in negotiations, has found that being collaborative—using “we” and trying to take the perspective of the company and hiring manager—tends to be more effective than other approaches.

She also emphasizes authenticity, so try to come up with language that feels comfortable and natural for you to use.

2. …and from the outset.

A 2011 study by Catalyst tracked 3,300 high-performing students in M.B.A. programs as they began their careers, and found that while 47% of women and 52% of men had countered the initial offer made for their current job, only 31% of women vs. 50% of men had countered the offer for the first job they had out of grad school.

While it’s good that women are catching on to the importance of negotiating, we need to encourage them to do it sooner.

“Failing to negotiate your salary from the start is not only an initial mistake; it is one that will continue to follow you and will be compounded over the years, disadvantaging you throughout the remainder of your career. Every raise you get, every bonus you receive and even the number of stock options you are awarded, will be smaller because these amounts are normally determined as a percentage of your artificially low base salary,” wrote Lee Miller, author of A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating on six-figure job-search site TheLadders.

Say you started out $5,000 behind your male peer, making $40,000 vs. his $45,000. If you each got 3% raises for each of the next five years, you’d be making $46,371 vs. his $52,167, expanding the difference to $5,798 and you’d have given up $26,546 in income differential in those years.

The longer this goes on, the harder it is to catch up.

3. Push for promotions early on.

According to Payscale, “women’s pay growth stops outpacing men’s at around age 30, which is when college-educated women typically start having children.” Furthermore, women’s pay peaks at age 39 at $60,000, vs. $95,000 at age 48 for men.

That suggests that a smart move would be to try to move up the ladder before you decide to raise a family.

“How women negotiate their career paths is arguably a more important determinant of lifetime earnings than negotiating a little extra money,” Hannah Riley Bowles told The New York Times recently.

4. Work in a fairer field.

Part of the problem, according to Sarah Jane Glynn, associate director for women’s economic policy at the Center for American Progress, is that a large proportion of women are clustered in a relatively few fields: 44% are in 20 occupations. And typically within those professions, the majority of workers are women. As Glynn has written,

“Female-dominated industries pay lower wages than male-dominated industries requiring similar skill levels, and the effect is stronger in jobs that require higher levels of education.”

So just try for a higher-paying male-dominated field, right? That can help. Harvard labor economist Claudia Goldin found that, for college grads, moving into such a profession would eliminate an average 30% to 35% of the wage gap.

But that’s not always a home run. Goldin found that female aircraft pilots and financial advisors earn less on the dollar compared to male peers than the average worker, at 71% and 73% respectively.

Goldin did find that the pay gap is much smaller than the average in certain fields—including ad sales, dental hygiene, HR, chemistry, pharmacy, and computer programming. But she pegs the slim difference to the fact that these fields allow a specific kind of flexibility that allows one worker to easily sub out for another, if, say, someone has to stay home with a sick kid.

5. Toot your own horn.

That Catalyst study of M.B.A. grads found that, of those women who said they made their achievements known to others in the organization, 30% had greater compensation growth than peers who did not promote themselves.

Some of the qualities found in these folks: “ensuring their manager was aware of their accomplishments, seeking feedback and credit as
appropriate, and asking for a promotion when they felt it was deserved.”

Sounds easy enough on paper, but in real life, this kind of self-promotion isn’t always easy for women.

To make it more palatable, Laura Donovan of Levo League suggests being selective about the moments you do this (e.g. yes to scoring the $1 million client, no to pushing through the report that’s expected of you), choosing the right audience for your message (don’t blast the full staff), and focusing on facts rather than self-congratulation (“I just wanted you to know that we’ve signed the contract with Client Y, for $1 million over two years….”).

Also, focus on the upside: The Catalyst study suggested that self-promotion can help you gain sponsorship from important allies who can help you further advance in your career, and hopefully get you closer to closing the pay gap.

TIME politics

White House Pay Gap Hasn’t Changed Under Obama

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about transportation and the economy on July 1, 2014, at the Georgetown Waterfront Park in Washington. Charles Dharapak—AP

The average male employee earns over $10,000 more than average female employee

The pay gap between men and women working at the White House has not narrowed since President Barack Obama’s first year in office, according to a new report, despite Obama’s emphasis on pay equity ahead of the midterm elections.

Salary data compiled by the Washington Post found a 13% gap between the genders: The average salary for men in the White House is $88,600 per year, while the average salary for women is $78,400 per year, the Post reports. That gap has persisted since 2009, when male employees earned an average of $82,000, and female employees made $72,700.

One explanation for the gap is that there are more men than women in higher-paying, senior jobs at the White House: 87 male White House officials earn more $100,000, compared to 53 women. “At the White House, we have equal pay for equal work,” White House spokeswoman Jessica Santillo told the Post. “Men and women in equivalent roles earn equivalent salaries, and over half of our departments are run by women.” She added that the White House is working to place more women in senior positions.

Obama has argued throughout the year that raising the minimum wage would help women and has signed two executive orders that aim make workplace pay more transparent and allow women to discover if they are earning less for the same job. The executive orders only apply to federal contractors, but the president has also pushed the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would mandate the same transparency for the general workforce.

“A woman deserves equal pay for equal work,” Obama said in this year’s State of the Union address.

“She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job,” Obama added.

Other parts of the federal government have a similar wage gap. But the 13% gap is still better than that of the nation as a whole, which by one measure has a 23.5% disparity.

[Washington Post]

 

TIME pay gap

Millennial Women Are Still Getting Paid Less Than Men

And millennial men are totally smug about it

Naive millennials thought that the pay gap was only for mid-level executives, but new research shows that even the youngest generation of women are more financially vulnerable in the workplace. Despite an earlier Pew report that showed women gaining parity with men, new research from Wells Fargo shows that college-educated millennial men made $20,000 more per year than women with the same education level. The median annual income for millennial men was $83,000, while women made only $63,000.

The Wells Fargo data didn’t mention anything about a breakdown by occupation, but other research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows that even in occupations that are dominated by women, men still tend to earn more. But the most recent findings also contradict the notion that the pay gap can be attributed to women slowing down at work because they’re on the mommy track– this data shows that women are making less than men far before they start to think about having families. This goes with other research that finds that the pay gap starts with the first job a student gets out of college which can put them behind for their whole career.

Some attribute the wage gap to women’s failure to negotiate, but recent studies have shown that no matter how a woman negotiates her salary, it can often have negative consequences. As Maria Konnikova wrote recently in the New Yorker:

The effect held whether they saw the negotiation on video or read about it on paper, whether they viewed it from a disinterested third-party perspective or imagined themselves as senior managers in a corporation evaluating an internal candidate. Even women penalized the women who initiated the conversation, though they also penalized the men who did so. They just didn’t seem to like seeing someone ask for more money.

More: There’s Even a Wage Gap in Kids’ Allowances

There’s also a disparity between men and women when it comes to savings. Of the 55% of millennials who say they’re saving for retirement, 61% are men and only 50% are women. And 58% of men feel “satisfied” with their savings, while only 41% of women do. And millennial women are far less confident about their financial futures, since only 62% say they’ll be able to afford the lifestyle they want in the future. 80% of men say they’re confident they’ll be able to live the life they want.

Millennial women get the shorter end of the stick when it comes to debt too. 45% of millennial women said they felt “overwhelmed” by their debt, while only 33% of men felt that way. One in five millennial women is “worried” about making ends meet, while only one in ten men is.

Moral of the story: millennial dudes are not only making more and saving more, they’re utterly confident about it.

TIME Education

Female ‘A’ Students End Up Making Less Than Male ‘C’ Students

High school GPA is just one of many factors, including gender, that determine a student’s future income, according to a new study. It found that women who had a 4.0 GPA in high school still made less on average than men who had a 2.5 GPA

Your performance in high school is key to predicting your future salary. But so is your gender and race.

The higher the grade point average (GPA) you have in high school, the more money you’ll make later in life, according to a new University of Miami study that will be published in the upcoming issue of the Eastern Economic Journal. But high-achieving female students still won’t earn as much as male counterparts who didn’t work quite as hard: a woman who had a 4.0 GPA in high school still makes less on average than a man who had a 2.5 GPA.

The chart below illustrates the earnings differences between men and women. The men are in red, the women in green. Personal earnings are listed on the X-axis, high school GPA on the Y-axis.

Michael French, the University of Miami

The gender pay gap has been hotly debated, with some attributing it to job choice, child rearing issues or just plain discrimination. And the issue has recently become more contentious as disputes over how wide the gap actually is continue to grow.

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