Friday, January 15, 2016

Finding Solutions to the Gender Pay Gap

Most articles or books I've read about the gender pay gap bombard you with statistics to prove that the pay gap acually exists. Hopefully by now people are willing to accept that women make less than men for the same work. But even if we accept this as a real and true issue, nothing changes unless we find tangible ways to do something about it.

This NYT article, "How to Bridge That Stubborn Pay Gap" is great. It doesn't place blame on anyone or anything for the wage gap, it simply acknowledges it's there, and then suggests solutions. It's not long and it's really interesting, so please please just READ it.

I'll outline the solutions below and some of the stats that really stuck out to me.

1. Publish Everyone's Pay

Studies have found that places who already do it, have seen a shrinkage in the pay gap. So, we know it works.

I think it would encourage women to speak up as well, because many may be in denial or just totally unaware of their counterparts' salaries.

2. Negotiation

"When receiving job offers, 51.5 percent of men and 12.5 percent of women asked for more money, according to a study of Carnegie Mellon University graduate students by Linda Babcock, an economist at the university. In other research, she found that when women did ask, they asked for 30 percent less than men requested."

"But her research and that of others has found that women are penalized for negotiating, while men are rewarded for the same behavior. (As the actress Jennifer Lawrence wrote in Lenny after the Sony hacking revealed that she was paid less than her male co-stars, she didn’t fight for more because “I didn’t want to seem ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled.’ ”)"

Read this article from Jennifer Lawrence next. It talks about this inner battle women face in the workplace. (With the bonus of J-Law's witty humor.)

3. Don't Rely on Previous Salaries

I think this one is huge. I've always thought it was unfair for potential employers to ask what your current salary is. What if you are coming from a non-profit or a field where low salaries are the norm? That number doesn't reflect your worth. Especially, like they mention, if you take time off to have children, your previous salary should not even be a factor.

"Google has said it does this and instead makes offers based on what a job is worth."

4. Make Work Easier for Mothers

"Research has found that salaries at men and women’s first jobs out of school are fairly similar. The gender pay gap widens a few years later when women start having children."

Our country needs to offer better parental leave policies and affordable child care. So many other countries are dominating us in this area.

5. Build More Flexible Workplaces

Obviously, flexible work schedules allow both mothers and fathers to play a bigger role in raising their children and don't force one parent to leave the workforce altogether.

6. Change the Law

Getting laws passed that would make some of these solutions mandatory would help. And it would hopefully empower women to speak up if they experience discrimination, knowing the legal system is behind them.

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