Many of you probably don’t know this, but today is Equal Pay Day. As somebody whose major in college was women’s studies, I’ve long been aware of the wage gap that persists and have stayed on top of the facts now that it affects me much more. Here's some info:
On average, women make roughly 77 cents to each dollar a man makes. For example, a recent study found that women make $4,600 less than men in their first post-MBA job. Minorities also face a wage gap, and not only because of differences in education. The difference among women is also a problem – the wage gap between mothers and non-mothers is widening. Just this week, we learned that women who have children at an older age aren’t as heavily penalized on the equal pay front as women who have children at a younger age.
There are a lot of factors at play here, but I want to bring attention to one part of it that is within our control, and that’s salary negotiation.
Of all the women friends I have, there are only two I can think of who have ever tried to negotiate their salary – one negotiated her starting salary and the other negotiated a raise. I have to admit that even I had never negotiated a salary until my most recent job offer, even with all of my knowledge about how important it is to negotiate at every level. While every negotiation you make will not always result in the outcome you want or need, it’s still crucial to make the effort and the fact is that a lot of women don't.
Aside from that course of action we can take in our own careers, it’s also good to educate ourselves and others. The National Committee on Pay Equity website has a lot of facts and figures, along with resources on evaluating your company’s practices, learning about the Paycheck Fairness Act, and so forth. So get out there and make every day Equal Pay Day until Equal Pay is a reality.