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BY Georgene Huang

What Every Woman Should Do On Equal Pay Day

By Georgene Huang

gender pay gap

Photo credit: © Minerva Studio / Adobe Stock

Equal Pay Day isn’t exactly something to celebrate, but it should, at the very least, prompt you to reflect on your compensation situation. We want to help you do that -- so to mark this day at Fairygodboss, we’re complementing our existing salary database (where you can look up crowdsourced salary and bonus pay by employer, department and title) by partnering with Payscale to offer a salary calculator that also takes into account where you live and work.

Why is Equal Pay Day today? In the U.S., Equal Pay Day marks the point in the year until which the average woman has to work in order to catch up in pay to what the average man made in the prior year. Payscale, which analyzes the gender pay gap each year, has found most recently that women earn on average 76 cents to every dollar the average man earns.

Payscale refers to this as the “uncontrolled” pay gap, because when adjusted for job type, education and seniority in work experience, the difference between what men and women earn is much less -- it shrinks to just 2 cents. In other words, controlling for certain factors leads to a wage gap of just 2.4%, which is an improvement over last year, when women earned 97 cents compared to every dollar a man earned, even after controlling for education, seniority and job type.

We also know there’s been some improvement since last year because today we’re celebrating Equal Pay Day earlier in the year (last year, it was April 12).

While there’s a lot of substantial data surrounding the specifics of the gender pay gap, some still don’t seem to understand it -- and some still deny that it exists.

To get some clarification on the misconceptions surrounding the gender pay gap, I recently spoke to Lydia Frank, VP of Content Strategy at Payscale. “I think a huge misconception about the pay gap is that it’s intentional and another is that the work is done when you’ve ensured that pay is equitable for similar workers,” she told me. “I believe that companies are typically made up of people who are fair-minded. Sometimes, they just don’t know exactly what the issue is or how to tackle it.”

Frank also said that she loves “seeing a new focus on metrics like promotion velocity and representation of women and other minorities by job level or by department. What gets measured gets done, so we need to ensure organizations are measuring the right things to make real progress on gender equity in the workplace.”

When I asked her about pay gap deniers, Frank explained while “the pay gap between similarly qualified men and women working in identical jobs is relatively small at 98 cents on the dollar [...] the devil is in the details. The pay gap grows as women advance in their careers and it tends to be larger in male-dominated industries like Oil & Gas, Finance, etc.

“The larger gap – when we don’t control for job title, experience and other factors that impact compensation – is 76 cents on the dollar,” Frank added. “That’s because women are underrepresented in the best-paying jobs in the workforce, specifically leadership positions and STEM jobs. The more insidious and persistent gap is one of access and opportunity.”

So what’s one concrete thing you can do on Equal Pay Day? The data is out there, and with the new calculator in the salary section of our site, we’re making easier than ever to find out whether you’re getting paid fairly. So get informed...and if you find out you’re a victim of the gender pay gap, here are some tips on how to move forward.

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