Look at PayScale’s Gender Pay Gap report, and one thing will stand out right away: women still earn less than men. There’s no industry in which women earn as much or more than men, even after controlling for factors like years of experience, skills, education, and company size. So, while the controlled gender pay gap of 2.7 percent, or 97 cents on the dollar, is smaller than the stats you usually hear – 78 cents for every dollar a man earns, for example, according to the White House – it still represents a real disparity in pay, and one that can’t be explained away by choice of occupation or the experience lost due to time out to care for children.
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A few highlights from the report:
- The gender pay gap is highest between married men with children and married women with children.
- Married men earn the highest salaries, and single moms the lowest. Married men with children make median salaries of $67,900; those who do not have children earn $60,800. Single moms make $38,200 (median, uncontrolled for other factors) and $45,500 (median, controlled for factors like job, experience, etc.).
- Men’s salaries increase until ages 50 to 55, where they level off at a median salary of $75,000; women’s salaries plateau between the ages of 35 to 40 at a median of $49,000.
- The tech industry has the smallest controlled (1.4 percent) and uncontrolled (20.7 percent) pay gaps, until you get to the executive level, where the controlled gender pay gap of 5.6 percent is slightly higher than other industries. In general, the pay gap gets wider the higher up the ladder you go: male executives earn 32.8 percent more than female executives (uncontrolled) and 6.1 percent more (controlled).
- The highest overall controlled pay gap is for Gen X (3.6 percent).
- The pay gap increases with more education: PhD holders have the highest controlled pay gap (5.1 percent), followed by MBA holders (4.7 percent), and MDs (4.6 percent).
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that men were more likely to report that they prioritize home and family obligations over work (52 percent, compared with 46 percent of women) – pretty much the opposite of what you might expect.
On the other hand, the more often women report prioritizing home and family over the work, the larger the controlled pay gap becomes, suggesting that women who are up front about their desire to concentrate more energy on their personal lives are punished at work.
Erin Reid’s research at the Boston University School of Management found that women who desire time with family are more likely than men to ask for and receive formal accommodations, like a reduced schedule.
“In contrast, many men found unobtrusive, under-the-radar ways to alter the structure of their work (such as cultivating mostly local clients, or building alliances with other colleagues), such that they could work predictable schedules in the 50 to 60 hour range,” she writes at Harvard Business Review. “In doing so, they were able to work far less than those who fully devoted themselves to work, and had greater control over when and where those hours were worked, yet were able to ‘pass’ as ideal workers, evading penalties for their noncompliance.”
Should women combat the problem by adopting a similar approach? Maybe – although studies that show men and women are perceived differently at work might suggest that this tactic would be less successful for female workers.
“If a man’s office is dark on a Wednesday afternoon, people assume he’s at a closing. If a woman’s office is dark, people assume she’s at the playground,” says Debbie Epstein Henry, the president of Flex-Time Lawyers, in an interview with The Atlantic.
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