Busting The Enduring Gender Wage Gap

Women still make significantly less than men in the U.S. (and in other countries). One would think that the gender wage gap would be equal after 40 years!!!!!!

Gender Wage Gap Statistics

According to the US Department of Labor, in 2023 women working full-time, year-round earn 83.7 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Over an average 40-year career, this disparity costs the average woman more than $400,000!!!

While the gender gap closed (albeit slowly) during the 1980s and 1990s, since 2000 it has leveled out. In 1982 the gap was 65 cents on the dollar.

But since 2002 women’s wages have only closed in on men’s wages by 2 cents (reports the Pew Research Center).

My LinkedIn Poll on the Closing the Gender Wage Gap

Gender Wage Gap Poll Results

I posed this question to my followers on LinkedIn: “What would it take to close the Gender Wage Gap by 2032?”

To stimulate the discussion, I suggested four potential ways the gender wage gap might be closed:

• Option 1: Helping more women enter male-dominated fields

• Option 2: Financial and consultative support for female-owned startups

• Option 3: More mentorship for female leaders and potential leaders

• Option 4: Continued decline of gender stereotypes will even it out

Option 3 was the clear favorite, with 58% of people supporting it.

Option 1 came in second at 19%, and Options 2 and 4 were each favored by 12% of the respondents.

Here’s a summary of the responses I received:

LinkedIn Poll Comments on the Gender Wage Gap

Here’s the very interesting discussion that this LinkedIn Poll provoked. Participants fleshed out the strategies I listed and generated a few more strategies to eliminate the Gender Wage Gap.

Helping More Women Choose to Enter Traditionally Male-Dominated Fields

Allison Davidson: Option 1 is the only option. That’s because when you account for factors like degrees and jobs, the wage gap is less than one cent. Women make decisions to get lower paying degrees and enter lower paying fields.

My husband and I are a perfect example. We went to the same school at the same time. I made a choice to study French and he chose to study chemical engineering. Guess who makes more money?

Donna Schilder: Wow Allison Davidson, that’s a great point! There’s no reason why women can’t choose to study or prepare for male-dominated careers. There are very few careers that a woman might not be able to do because of strength.

It sounds like we need to start in at primary school level on up to encourage girls and women to consider other career paths.

Allison Davidson: Exactly. But for some reason, women are still choosing lower paying career paths. And the reason for that may be for greater flexibility when it comes time for a family but still. Option one for sure.

Donna Schilder: Your comment fits perfectly with Dorothy D’s below. I think there’s still bias acting to push women toward these career paths as well (from parents, teachers, tv shows, pop culture).

And, girls need to see women in these career paths. Plus, flexibility could be built into many male-dominated careers.

Allison Davidson: I’d argue that not all women feel that child and or elder care is a burden though.

It’s certainly an interesting topic. Lots of nuance and many different cultural viewpoints involved in this discussion!

Donna Schilder: They may not feel it’s a burden, but it may impact their career path choices.

Allison Davidson: Thinking further about that idea, one has to wonder how much the “choice” is influenced by social norms around gender roles. For example, male-dominated fields are not always attractive precisely because of the historical prejudice.

A study conducted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that women in STEM fields were almost twice as likely as women in other industries to leave that field due to seeing others get promoted ahead of them, unequal pay, and a lack of diversity at the company.

That is, women still feel pressured by society’s belief that they “are better suited” for lower-paying jobs like teaching and social work. On the other hand, male-dominated fields represent a challenging, negative experience.

More Men in Traditionally Female Jobs

Bernadette Pawlik: I would also like to see more men in traditional female roles: Teachers, nurses, social workers, care providers. Women have for some time now been encouraged to be strong and to seek challenges that lead to monetary rewards and status. I’d love to see more men plugged into what I believe exists in all of us: Nurturing, developing and caring for others. Perhaps then we will see fewer issues with pay increases for teachers and nurses.

Donna Schilder: I do think we are seeing more men in traditionally female jobs, especially more male nurses.

The pressure in the 1950s through 1970s on women to be either a teacher, nurse, hairstylist, secretary, or dental hygienist has dissipated.

The pressure for men not to work in those professions was equally strong in the 50s through the 70s. The forces for change for men in these fields may not be as strong as the reverse pressure for women.

I agree that if female-dominated professions became more equally mixed, the genderwage gap would improve.

More Men in Traditionally Female Gender Roles

There’s a theme in this online dialogue that suggests that the old-fashioned ideas about gender roles are still present to some extent, but still need to be shifted for us to create a culture with equal pay for women and men.

Dorothy Dalton: I am becoming increasingly convinced that, to quote Sheryl Sandberg, to get more women in the workplace we need more men at home. To move away from the stereotype of women as care givers and men as revenue generators.

Donna Schilder: I’m seeing more male caregivers and stay-at-home dads in my spheres, so hopefully, there is movement in that direction. I think this is a very important piece Dorothy D! Thanks for the comment.

Note: Sheryl Sandberg was a C-level executive at Google, Facebook, and other technology companies, where her strategies proved very successful. She was also the first woman named to Facebook’s Board of Directors, and is also the author of “Lean In.”

Allison Davidson: On a personal note, I do disagree that we need more men in the home and more women in the workplace.

However, if you look at this issue strictly at face value, yes the solution would be evening the percentage of men and women in certain fields as well as evening out the percentage who are caregivers.

Donna Schilder: There are other ways to reduce the burden of child care and elder care for women besides more men in the home.

More Women Building Their Skill Set & Investing in Themselves

Erica ReckampMore company-provided development with emphasis on self-advocacy, or more women investing in themselves to build those skills.

Donna Schilder: Absolutely. More learning opportunities offered to women on the job, formal training and formal coaching. Yes, I find women don’t invest in themselves as often or as much as men do.

I once had to call a CEO/Business owner twice to encourage her to engage in coaching for herself. I dug deep with her and found that she didn’t believe she was worth it. She was so glad she went forward with coaching, and she could see it impacted her company’s bottom line.

Creating a New National Law – Requiring Salaries to Be Posted in Job Descriptions

David Holley: Option 5 : Make it a Federal Law that salaries must be posted in job descriptions

Donna Schilder: Good idea. California just implemented that.

Closing Thoughts on the Gender Wage Gap

The good news is that there are many organizations and companies implementing some or all of the strategies mentioned in this blog and the LinkedIn Poll and subsequent online discussion.

If you’re a woman in any field looking to expand your professional options or negotiate equal pay, consider engaging one of our Career Coaches or Leadership Coaches.

Be the Leader you’ve always wanted to be!

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With Our Consultations Coach: Chris Sier, PCC (BIO)
With Our Consultations Coach: Chris Sier, PCC