In January, Momentum’s April Benetollo wrote a post entitled “Who Can Wait for 2085?” The article focused on the study that projected women to achieve parity in leadership in this country in the year 2085.
A new study from the AAUW suggests that women may not achieve pay equity with men until the year 2152. Yes, middle of the next century.
“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the earnings ratio hasn’t had significant annual change since 2007. The gap has narrowed since the 1970s, due largely to women’s progress in education and workforce participation and to men’s wages rising at a slower rate. Still, the pay gap does not appear likely to go away on its own. At the rate of change between 1960 and 2015, women are expected to reach pay equity with men in 2059. But even that slow progress has stalled in recent years. If change continues at the slower rate seen since 2001, women will not reach pay equity with men until 2152.”
-The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, Spring 2017 Edition, AAUW
An early career woman faces the daunting reality of the gender pay gap, especially as she makes career path decisions that affect her long-term salary. Some of the gender pay gap stems from the motherhood penalty, which we will discuss at a later time, but this Forbes article has two suggestions for eliminating the gender pay gap: implementing pay transparency and eliminating negotiation.
The idea about implementing pay transparency is establishing unbiased meritocracy within an organization. It would raise awareness among employees, which has been the consistent weapon of choice to combat gender bias. It’s not that organizations are outwardly opposed to equal gender rights, rather organizations are unaware of how their actions affect the gender pay gap. Underlying biases are not always recognizable. Implementing pay transparency could eliminate the issue, forcing organizations to be honest about how employees are rewarded for their work.
Men negotiate salary and benefits 4 times more than women, but when women negotiate, they are likely to earn $1 million more over their lifetime than women who refuse to negotiate. It’s easy to accept a salary lower than market-value during the early career stages, but employees who do are likely to continue being underpaid for the duration of their time with that company. If eliminating negotiation is not an option, then women must find their voice and exude enough confidence to negotiate, even when they may be a minority in the workplace.
The difference between pay equity in 2059 and 2152 is vast. As an early career woman, 2059 means I will see pay equity in my lifetime. 2152 means that my grandchildren will. Entering the workforce with awareness of these issues and the confidence to fight for them will make all the difference.