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Equal pay for women in the workplace

Equal pay for women in the workplace

Whether you've been looking for a new job or you've worked in the same position for years, you may have wondered if you're getting paid as much as you deserve. One study showed that women generally make about 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man, and women of color tend to make even less. In fact, one 2018 study found that female workers are three times as likely as male workers to believe a pay disparity is in place. Although Women's History Month is in March, equal pay for women is an important consideration throughout the year.

In the United States, the gender-based wage gap has meant that women tend to earn less than men in full-time and part-time roles. According to the Pew Research Center, women would need to work 42 additional days each year to earn what men made in 2020. The wage gap affects women all over the country and in many industries.

Why does the wage gap exist?

Several factors contribute to the gender-based wage gap. One way to address a wage gap in your workplace is to understand which factors could contribute to lower pay for women. If you are aware of these factors, you can find ways to address them.

One common factor is the "motherhood penalty," which refers to the negative effects that motherhood can have on a woman's career, such as discrimination in the hiring process, lower pay, and fewer opportunities for advancement. A discriminating employer may see motherhood as a deterrent to working.

Racism is another factor to consider when talking about the wage gap. For example, Black women statistically tend to make less than white women. Addressing pay disparity requires some consideration of racism and discrimination.

Occupational segregation still exists as well. Although women are more represented in higher-paying jobs than in the past, women are still overrepresented in lower-paying roles. Part of this occurs because many women seek part-time jobs so they can still be present for their families.

Ways to reduce the wage gap at work

No matter where you are in your job search, you may want to know what you can do to ensure that you are being paid fairly. Knowing how to approach wage and salary discussions is helpful. These are some ways you can see progress in your own workplace and role:

Discuss opportunities for advancement

The wage gap is not the only pay-related issue that women face in the workplace. In fact, many women report that they aren't satisfied with opportunities for career advancement with their current employer. Additionally, many women report that they don't feel they have the same opportunities for advancement as men with similar skills and qualifications.

If you feel that you have been looked over for promotion and advancements in salary, you can talk to your manager about any roadblocks standing in the way. You may find that your employer is willing to work with you so that you can advance in your career.

Talk about training opportunities

Training and learning opportunities are also crucial for women who want to see growth in the workplace. If you don't feel that your employer is providing you with training to build up your skills, you can discuss the need for more training opportunities in your role. You may find that your employer simply isn't aware of the need or desire for additional training. Training opportunities may come in the form of:

  • College courses
  • Leadership seminars
  • Anti-bias and diversity training
  • Soft skills development
  • Online enrichment

Rally for a wage floor

Whether you're a job seeker or you already work in your desired career field, you can write to your legislators and ask them for universal social protections. Increasing the wage floor increases the minimum pay that an employer can offer for a specific role or in a specific industry. Some fields, like the service industry, have a low minimum wage, particularly if they allow tips. Calling for a raise for this industry would address many of the women overrepresented in low-paying roles.

Talk about pay transparency

In some workplaces, employees are discouraged or even forbidden from talking about pay. Pay transparency laws make it illegal for employers to require workers to stay quiet about pay. When pay is transparent, employees can compare salaries. They will know if they are getting paid less than somebody else with the same skills, education, and experience.

Know your rights in the workplace

In the workplace, discrimination is often based on a variety of factors, including gender and parental status. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects against wage discrimination on the basis of sex. If you believe that you've been discriminated against, you should be aware of your rights and your legal options.

How job seekers can approach equal pay for women

If you're looking for a job, you may have concerns about whether you'll receive equal pay once you're hired. One way to ensure that you're paid fairly is by approaching the topic of salary in an interview and the early stages of the hiring process. Early transparency helps you find a job that pays you fairly. Here are a few ways you can discuss equal pay with a potential employer:

Think carefully before you answer questions about salary history

In some states, legislation has proposed that employers should be barred from asking job candidates about salary history. You may want to familiarize yourself with the laws in your state surrounding salary history questions. If your state does allow these questions, understand that the figure you provide may impact the salary the hiring manager offers you to start. You may reconsider sharing this information with a hiring manager.

Talk about the future of your role

You can ask about room for growth in a role you're interviewing for. In fact, you may want to learn more about the training and promotion options before you agree to take on the job. You'll get a better idea of what the future looks like if you accept this role, including what the wage ceiling would be with the organization. 

Even after you accept a role, discussions about your future in the position should be ongoing. Throughout your career, you can check in to assess your relationship with your employer. Your employer may not necessarily initiate these conversations, but you can advocate for yourself by requesting meetings to discuss the potential for promotion.

"One way to ensure that you're paid fairly is by approaching the topic of salary in an interview and the early stages of the hiring process. Early transparency helps you find a job that pays you fairly."

Learn how to negotiate salary

Salary negotiations can be difficult, but they could ultimately lead to better outcomes. Come to negotiations with a specific figure in mind, but don't provide it right away. For example, you might know that you want to get paid $65,000 per year, but you might start your negotiations by requesting $72,000 so that you have some room to work with.

You'll also find it advantageous to research a role's compensation before you accept it. If you accept less than you're worth at the start of your time with a company, you'll always be negotiating from a deficit.

Equal pay can be an uncomfortable subject to discuss at work, but it is important. When you understand the factors at play, you can address them in your existing role or when you're looking for a new job. If you are still searching for a career to meet your salary-based needs, get email alerts from CareerBuilder to make sure you're not missing out on any jobs that meet your specifications.

Learn more about 100,000 Careers, a partnership between CareerBuilder and iHeartRadio's Black Information network. We are on a mission to provide Black Americans with resources needed to secure a career providing stability, important benefits, and a higher income that can grow over time. Get started with a FREE coaching session. 

Related reading: more tips for approaching equal pay

Learn about the do's and don'ts for successfully negotiating your salary to get the pay you deserve when starting a new job.

Follow these tips to learn how much your position is really worth.

If you're ready to talk to your employer about advancement opportunities, discover how to approach a job promotion the right way.

Asking for a raise doesn't have to be scary. Here are seven tips to help you talk to your boss about increasing your salary.