Real Talk: The Pay Gap

My ambitious ladies, let’s have some real talk here. We’ve all heard about the pay gap, and for many of us, it’s an evidently pervasive issue we face. The truth of the matter is that women make about 80 cents to the dollar that men do. According to the American Association of University Women, the pay gap refers to the median annual pay of all women who work full time and year-round, compared to the pay of a similar cohort of men. This means that in equal comparisons, women make only 80% of the money that men do.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s been significant improvement. In 1950, women only made 61 cents to the dollar that men did (I know, I know, hold the shrieks). You would think that by now, we’d be a lot closer to equality in this arena. Think about it, there’s been an increase of women entering traditionally male dominated fields, and a lot of progress that has been made in encouraging young girls to be involved in the STEM program (an interdisciplinary curriculum of science, technology, engineering, and math).  But what else can we do to fix this problem? And why does it occur in the first place? I mean, come on, it’s 2018!

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has enacted laws that aim to prevent pay discrimination. Of course these laws aren’t effective all the time, but for the most part, proper employers must offer the same pay to men and women going for the same position with the same qualifications. So where does the pay disparity usually come from? It’s in the sheer fact that women are much less likely to negotiate for their salaries.

Women are proven to be more relational than men, which is a core reason why we’re less likely to flex our negotiating skills when it comes to accepting a position and the salary that comes along with it. This is such a crucial point because the pay gap only gets bigger across people’s careers. The salary you start at determines your raises, since raises are generally a percent increase of your previous salary. This is not to mention that women who choose to have children and go on maternity leave, fall behind in pay raises as well.

We can’t talk about the pay gap without addressing the glass ceiling. This is another term we’ve all heard before, but to put it simply in the context we’re discussing it in, the glass ceiling refers to an invisible barrier that prevents women from advancing to positions of authority in their careers. Some argue that women have tried to break through in the past and couldn’t, so now even though the ceiling may have been removed, women don’t even try to surpass the it. There’s a psychological theory that may shed some light on the glass ceiling phenomenon. Role Congruency Theory contends that we regard people positively when they act consistently with our social expectations. This means that if the social norm doesn’t include women holding leadership positions, it’s received poorly when women pursue them.

So how do we work on this pay gap issue until it’s obsolete? A few key take aways, ladies. First of all, don’t be afraid to negotiate your salary! If you’re offered a position, it won’t be revoked if you ask to have a conversation about your compensation. And secondly, “sit at the table”, as Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg says. In other words, trust in your own abilities as a badass and claim the physical and metaphorical space you deserve.

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Keep pushing for the leadership roles of your industry and set a positive example until discriminatory social norms, the glass ceiling, and the pay gap are broken! #girlboss


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