The gender pay gap - and its persistence - is not new news. But Glamour’s “Big Salary Reveal,” which profiles 6 women and 6 men in similar jobs, comparing their earnings, has created some juicy buzz around the issue.
For the past two decades, Glamour’s Salary Survey has investigated what women in various industries earn across the U.S. This year, for the 20th anniversary of the survey, Glamour decided to take their research a step further and compare women’s earnings to men’s face to face, physically juxtaposing the numbers.
The duos included men and women who work as cashiers, in graphic design, data analytics, sales, social media/PR, and software engineering. The participants - all of whom were strangers - wrote their salaries down on cards. They were then asked, on the count of three, to flip their cards over. What’d they find? You guessed it...in all but one of the pairs, the man earned more than the woman.
As Glamour puts it, “The statistic widely cited is that women earn only 82 cents to a man’s dollar—a discrepancy that would make anyone angry. But when you’re looking at the black-and-white numbers of your salary compared to a man’s, as our volunteers did, this policy issue becomes suddenly very…personal.”
Indeed, Glamour’s article is particularly poignant because it brings a face (or faces, rather) to the gender wage gap - which can sometimes feel like a distant or abstract issue.
Glamour’s article is careful to address critics of the pay gap, who contend that the statistics we sometimes see are misleading because they don’t account for various factors that affect salary, such as experience, education, and the fact that women tend to work in lower-paying industries.
However, as Glamour reports, “a number of detailed studies have recently proved there are glaring disparities in many occupations, especially in high-paying, male-dominated fields like finance, insurance, and medicine. One report, in the Journal of the Medical Association, found that female doctors at public medical schools with the same experience, volume of patients, and number of papers published made $20,000 (or 8 percent) less per year than their male counterparts.
“Other research, looking across professions, has found differences ranging from 9 percent to 2 percent,” Glamour continues. “And just 2 percent can translate into a huge financial setback: For a woman earning today’s average wage, it would result in $59,000 in lost income over the course of her career—not to mention lower retirement and Social Security benefits.”
What can we do to shrink the wage gap? For starters, transparency is key. Glamour’s article is so intriguing in part because salary information tends to be shrouded in secrecy. That’s why Fairygodboss is all about increasing transparency on workplace issues that are often difficult to address in person; we crowdsource information to provide a comprehensive salary database and maternity leave resource center, among other resources.
Increasing access to this information and facilitating more dialogue can help inform not only employees and job seekers, but also decision-makers at companies. By sharing with employers what best practices look like, we can encourage them to modify their existing policies and enact new initiatives so that they’re more equal and inclusive.
For example, after feeling compelled to review salary information within his company, Salesforce CEO Marc Beinoff implemented a plan - with $3 million in funding - to address the inequities he found. Moreover, he had publicly announced that he was conducting a compensation audit - setting an example for others who are in the position to do the same.
While Glamour’s findings are disappointing (though not surprising), we are confident that we’re slowly moving (even if merely inching) in the right direction. You can help Fairygodboss bring transparency and attention to the gender pay gap by sharing your salary here.
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