Working women rejoice.
Today is Equal Pay Day — a day you are supposed to feel grateful that the gender pay gap is narrowing across the United States. For every dollar a man makes a woman makes 79 cents, significantly better than the 1960s when that dollar value was 59 cents.
The annual day started in 1963 when the government enacted the Equal Pay Act, a law intended to ensure women with similar education and experience are paid wages on par with men.
Bad news though, because women will have to wait until 2059 for that day to arrive.
According to the latest report from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), if we factor our current progression, the gender pay gap will only be eliminated by the year 2059. Currently, women earn about $10,800 less per year than men, which amounts to almost half a million dollars over the course of their career.
It’s important to understand though that this data is not the most accurate indication of how far the U.S. has come.
Why? Because it ignores the painful reality that women with similar education and experience as men ask for less money during salary negotiations for the same role. A fact pointed out by several research studies.
According to a survey by Hired — an employment website for job seekers and employers — the average woman sets her expected salary at $14k less per year than the average man.
“Our data—which spans technology, sales, and marketing roles—shows that 69% of the time, men receive higher salary offers than women for the same job title at the same company,” writes study lead author, Jessica Kirkpatrick.
What’s most alarming about statistics like this is that they are used in news and business articles as justification for companies to pay equally qualified women less money than men. These articles encourage women to unpack the complex psychological reasons why they ask for lower salaries, and to simply start asking for more money.
We’d like to point out that not only is this “solution” easier said than done, but it takes companies off the hook. The fact that women ask for less money than men doesn’t alleviate a company of their ethical responsibility to offer them salaries on par with men. If we want to achieve pay equity sooner than 2059, we need to stop putting the onus on women job seekers to ask for more. It’s a joint effort.
We encourage companies that care about equal rights to put their money where their mouth is. The next time you make a job offer to a woman, do your research to get a sense for what men are getting paid for that same job within the same industry, and adjust your offer accordingly.
It’s the most honest way forward.