Many businesses tout a model where employee pay is based on merit, skill and experience. However, the much-admired Pew Research Center released a new study on gender and pay in 2020. It found that women earn 84% of what men earn for similar work. This number remains much the same as it was for the past 15 years. To put this in stark terms – that 16% difference adds up to women needing to work an extra 42 days each year to earn the same amount of money. Researchers based these findings on full- and part-time employees.
Younger women did better
There was a bright spot amidst these disheartening numbers – women between the ages of 25-34 earn 93% of what their male counterparts in the same age group do. This is a vast improvement over the same group in 1980 where younger women made 67% of younger male workers. This was slightly higher than the 64% average for all women employees.
Why is there still a gap?
The study not only highlighted the pay gap but also explained why it still happens. Despite more women hired in higher-paying positions as managers, executives and professionals, the lower end of the pay spectrum remains overrepresented by women. It is also worth noting that 42% of women surveyed claimed gender-based pay discrimination on the job, almost double the number of men.
Motherhood is still an obstacle in career path
Women still tend to be more heavily burdened by parenting and caregiving obligations. For example:
- They are more likely to take longer leaves after the birth or adoption of a child.
- They are more likely to juggle caregiving roles even when they have a demanding full-time job.
- They are more likely to turn down job promotions that involve more demands upon their time.
- They are more likely to work fewer hours because of family obligations.
Lack of recognition
Some argue that having children and raising a family is a choice, but many felt that management also tended to diminish their work more often. The following measures the difference between fathers/mothers regarding the same issues:
- Treated as if they lacked commitment to their career: 20%/27%
- Passed over for high profile assignments: 14%/19%
- Passed over for promotion: 13%/19%
Companies may need to change expectations
The benefits of a diverse workforce at all levels of a business are clear. So owners, managers and human resources may need to recalibrate how they measure employee performance and job expectations to remove the stubborn final (hopefully) hurdles to equal pay. Employees of both genders can also help in this process by advocating for themselves and supporting each other when there are unfair pay and other indignities.