5 Ways You Can End the Gender Pay Gap

Regardless of how you look at the data, women make less than men in their careers and we have to do something to fix this issue. As the great Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world,” so here are five ways to help you be that change and end the gender pay gap once and for all.


(Photo Credit: steelashan/Flickr)

1. Acknowledge That the Gender Pay Gap Exists

First and foremost, you need to accept that the gender pay gap exists, because ignorance is not bliss in this situation. It’s easy to fall into the habit of ignoring important issues in the world because you feel too insignificant or small to make a difference – after all, you are just one person, right? Wrong.

This type of thinking actually further perpetuates issues like the gender pay gap, because the dialogue that needs to be happening isn’t. Once you accept and acknowledge that women are indeed being paid less than men, you’ll see that the situation is far more complicated than the “78 cents on the dollar” figure being thrown around in the media nowadays.

2. Know the Facts

It’s important to educate yourself on what the gender pay gap is and is not. PayScale paints a clearer picture of the state of gender equality in its latest report Inside the Gender Pay Gap. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The median salary for women is 25.6 percent less than the median salary for men, $44,800 vs. $60,200, respectively.
  • The overall gender pay gap is 74 cents on the dollar (women vs. men earnings).
  • The controlled gender pay gap is 97 cents on the dollar (factoring in experience, education, hours worked, location, etc.).
  • The gender pay gap increases as education level increases: PhD holders have the highest controlled pay gap (5.1 percent), followed by MBA holders (4.7 percent), and MDs (4.6 percent).
  • The gender pay gap increases as you climb the corporate ladder, to as much as 6.1 percent (controlled) and 32.8 percent (uncontrolled) at the executive level.
  • The gender pay (allowance) gap begins during childhood, as early as age 5 for young girls.
  • The gender pay gap is greatest among married men with children and married women with children (31.1 percent).

3. Undo the Unconscious Bias

Women aren’t helpless babes in need of rescuing, but it wouldn’t hurt if they had a cheerleader or two in the office, y’know? Part of the problem is that most of us (yes, men and women) don’t really realize that unconscious bias affects our decisions. In a nutshell, unconscious bias is like a veil over our eyes that colors the way we perceive gender roles in the household, the workplace, and in society as a whole. Women, for instance, are viewed as homemakers and caregivers, while men are expected to be the breadwinners of the family.

4. Talk About It

Nothing’s going to change if “mum’s the word” when it comes to being open and honest about the realities of the gender pay gap. Thankfully, as of late, gender inequality in the workplace has gained attention in the media and more high-profile people are speaking out about it, including Hollywood actors (here and here), tech giants, and President Obama, to name a few. Jump on the pay equality bandwagon and start encouraging your colleagues to embrace a more equal workplace for women and men alike.

For instance, if you see one of your female co-workers busting her butt day in and day out but she’s reluctant to take credit for her work, then compliment her openly and acknowledge her contributions. All it takes is a simple hat-tip in a meeting, such as, “I’d like to point out that Tracy worked diligently to get this proposal completed on time and it looks phenomenal. Thanks for the hard work, Tracy.” The compliment is enough to get Tracy acknowledged for her efforts and give credit where credit is due.

5. Know Your Worth and Negotiate More

Did you know that men negotiate their salaries four times as often as women? In a study for her book Women Don’t Ask, Linda Babcock found that 57 percent of the men surveyed negotiated their salaries, whereas only 7 percent of women admitted to negotiating, reports Forbes.

Salary negotiations can be extremely scary and intimidating, especially for women. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg admits that even she was once reluctant to negotiate her salary. Now, Sandberg is one of the most recognizable faces in the fight for gender pay equality and recently teamed up with NBC broadcast journalist Natalie Morales, former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton, and Levo League for the Ask4More campaign that aims to spread awareness about America’s gender pay gap.

In order for women to close the gender wage gap, they need to know their worth (using this handy tool) and learn to negotiate like a pro with these tips (and these, too) – because as the Ask4More site says, “You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you ask for.”

Tell Us What You Think

How else can you help end the gender pay gap once and for all? Share your thoughts with our community on Twitter, or leave a comment below.