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What You Can Do to Stomp Out Gender Pay Discrimination

by Shawanda Greene

In 2011, American women earned 82.2% of men’s median weekly earnings, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. In almost every profession, women pull in lower wages than their male counterparts.

Although part of the gender pay gap stems from good old-fashioned sexism, women shoulder some of the blame for their discounted salaries.

When you

  • end your work day early to spend time with the kids,
  • interrupt prime income earning years to raise your young’uns,
  • choose a low paying career, and
  • shy away from salary and raise negotiations

you can’t expect to command top dollar for your services.

Although noble, your personal lifestyle choices are irrelevant to a non-breathing, soulless, profit-driven company.

But as I mentioned earlier, women are still subjected to sexual discrimination, and that ain’t fair.

Coin PurseDuring the MarketPlace Money segment, Why do women get smaller raises than men?Maura Belliveau, a Long Island University professor, made an interesting point.

If managers reason that women don’t care about money as much as men or that we’re poor negotiators, then they’ll initially offer us vagina having wimps a low ball salary or raise. Which means, from the start, we’re handicapped in the negotiation gamesಠ_ಠ 

You can’t control people’s biases. As individuals, we’re basically powerless when it comes to ending the wage disparities between women and men. 

Without hacking into your employer’s payroll system, it’s almost impossible to find out how much others earn.

So what can you do?

Professor Belliveau has a smart, somewhat scary, solution: Advocate for a gender pay audit within your organization. With 71% of human resource managers being women, such a request should seem unnecessary, yet here we are.

Since the government doesn’t require compensation transparency, self policing the biases, intentional or unintentional, of those responsible for determining pay is the best, and unfortunately, one of the few answers to clamping shut the gender wage gap.

Would you be willing to ask your employer to perform a gender pay audit?

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandy August 10, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Working in HR, I have the benefit of seeing the HORRIBLE gap in pay for some people doing the same or similar job because of this lack of negotiation. That’s why I’m an absolute beast to fight for every single penny that I am entitled to.

Also, you’re right about leaving early, etc and expecting to get the same $$$.
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Shawanda Greene August 13, 2012 at 9:12 PM

It’s unfortunate that people can perform the same job and get paid widely different amounts. Companies don’t really have an incentive to tell you when you’re getting screwed on pay in benefits.
Shawanda Greene recently posted..No kids? No problem! You Can Still Take Advantage of Back-to-School SalesMy Profile

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femmefrugality August 10, 2012 at 4:48 PM

I’d be interested to see how gender discrimination plays a role in pay discrepancies in some European countries where women are given more paid maternity leave and longer leaves for child rearing. I have no idea how it compares, but I think it would be interesting to find out.
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Shawanda Greene August 13, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Hmm. That would be interesting.

One could argue that a maternity leave makes up for the amount of money women are stiffed due to gender bias. Then again, not every woman will have children.
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Lance @ Money Life and More August 10, 2012 at 7:13 PM

Definitely stinks that it exists but you make some good points as to why it exists. I don’t know that asking for an audit would be helpful though, might put a target on your back.
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Shawanda Greene August 13, 2012 at 9:18 PM

I think a gender pay audit would be helpful IF the company in question actually cared about providing equal pay for equal work. Women who demand fair treatment or point out that those who decide pay are imperfect may provoke the ire of their superiors.
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