Hold on to your pearls, Donna Reed. Gone are the days of women staying home to clean house and cook a roast while their men head to the office. A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center showing that women make up 40 percent of the household breadwinners. What does this mean for the gender wage gap?
The good news: the gap isn’t as wide as you might think. According to a new PayScale study, the data shows that women are as likely to ask for a raise as their male colleagues. In fact, 32 percent of women and 29 percent of men have asked for a raise during their career, while 19 percent of women and 24 percent of men have asked for both a raise and a promotion. Even more surprising, men and women who share similar jobs and educational backgrounds earn the same pay for the most part, which could mean the gender wage gap, as it is commonly understood, is a myth.
“Contrary to popular belief, the issue isn’t that women earn less than men, generally speaking,” says Katie Bardaro, Director of Analytics at PayScale. “Instead, the issue is that women tend to choose different jobs from men. Women earn less on average because they often fill jobs with a large civic, quality of life, or community component but with small monetary benefit.”
However, as women move up the career ladder, there is a definite disparity between men and women earning potential. At the executive level, the gender wage gap is a whopping 9 percent. In a time of Sheryl Sandberg’s battle cry to lean in, many women seem to be shying away. And one of the reasons may be because of the high demands that an executive level position puts not only on female employees but their families as well. It’s difficult to lean in when you’re also a mom who has to help your kids with algebra, juggle their soccer and ballet schedules and perform your work to the best of your ability.
One way to increase the number of women who hold executive positions is to offer the opportunity to have flex schedules. Flexible work offers the freedom to customize your schedule so these women—many of them presumably mothers—can achieve the work/life balance they so desperately seek. Every employee should have the opportunity to excel both at work and in his or her personal life.
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Sara Sutton Fell is the CEO and Founder of FlexJobs, the award-winning site for telecommuting and flexible job listings. FlexJobs lists of 13,000 pre-screened, legitimate, and professional-level work-from-home jobs and other types of flexibility like part-time positions, freelancing, and flexible schedules. Sara and her team provide career and job search advice through the FlexJobs Blog and social media. Learn more at www.FlexJobs.com.
(Photo credit: US Department of Labor)