Finding Ways to Close the Pay Gap on International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day celebrates the amazing achievements of women around the world—in the workplace and beyond. While this day applauds milestones and accomplishments that have already been reached, it’s also a perfect time to consider how we can best ensure the future career success of women and girls.

One of the biggest gender-related issues in the job marketplace is the pay gap between men and women. It’s a topic that’s been at the center of national conversations for years. And while the reasons for these pay disparities are up for debate, one thing is clear: our own data proves that men in every region of the country have annual salary expectations that exceed expectations of women—and by thousands of dollars.   

Salary Expectations by Gender

On average, the self-reported desired salaries of men are $11,103.65 higher than the desired salaries of women. In other words, men have the expectation to earn or want to earn that much more than women expect to earn. Let’s dig deeper into the data:

By region, men reported an average desired salary of $80K per year in the Northeast, whereas women reported an average desired salary of only $61K per year. That $19K difference is the largest regional disparity in the nation.

By industry, we see some of the largest disparities in law, industrial goods & services, and business. It’s unsurprising that women feel tentative asking for more money in industries that were once dominated by men. Conversely, women actually report higher desired salaries than men in the food & beverage and personal care industries. These two fields have historically been female-dominated, so it’s understandable that women might feel more valued in these industries and emboldened to ask for higher salaries.

A Bigger Problem

The issue of salary disparity doesn’t begin and end with job seekers. News stories in recent years have pointed out that many high-profile employers have the same issues with systemic pay discrimination based on gender. Google was famously accused of extreme gender pay discrimination last year, and in 2017 the White House median salary for female staffers was $72,650 while the median salary for male staffers was $115,000. The salary patterns of such prominent institutions suggest that a more complex issue is at play than just women not asking for the salaries they deserve.

Finding a Solution

No matter the exact reasons for this widespread gender pay gap, our data shows that women tend to ask for lower salaries than men in most industries, and in all regions of the country. The issue is complex and a tough problem to tackle. While some will say women need to conduct more salary research and simply ask for more money, others will point to companies like Google as the prime purveyors of the problem. But just acknowledging that these disparities exist is a step in the right direction. By highlighting the differences in desired salaries between men and women, we hope to encourage everyone—men, women, and employers everywhere—to work towards eliminating the gender pay gap.

If you are a woman looking for a new job or hoping to negotiate a higher salary, here are some tips to help you secure the pay you deserve:

  1. Ask for More

Even if your company offers a salary within the average range for your title and area, don’t feel like you can’t ask for even more. Since women are asking for less, those salary averages are probably skewed and don’t tell the full story of what top-paid men are earning. Don’t shy away from negotiating on vacation days, benefits, or asking for a few thousand dollars more. A company that values you will at least be willing to hear you out. Plus, the more of these conversations you have, the more comfortable you’ll be having them. So when a situation comes up where you really need to be a tough negotiator, you’ll feel ready.

  1. Don’t Reveal Your Salary History

Many states are taking action to make it illegal for employers to ask job candidates about their salary history. Why? To help close the gender pay gap. A woman who has made less throughout her career has less negotiating power than a man who has earned a top-dollar salary. It follows the logic that a man and woman hired for the same job, at the same company, could easily end up earning radically different salaries. If a job application does ask about your salary history, simply leave the field blank and explain later what salary range you expect to receive without delving into what you have earned in the past.

  1. Know Your Worth

It’s always smart for women (and men) to have a clear and logical argument for why they deserve the salary they are requesting. Lay out to your employer (or prospective employer) precisely how you bring value to the company. Lean heavily into your credentials, past successes, and relevant market data when making your case to drive your points home. Any concrete reasons you can give to justify your salary or raise will up your odds of getting what you want. It will also help your employer feel confident that they’re making a smart business decision.

In the past year we’ve seen encouraging progress in the march toward gender equality. International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to shine a light on how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. Women from all industries (and their allies) are calling for companies to do their part to close the gender pay gap, and it appears that they are being heard. In 2018, we hope to see even more women earning the pay they deserve. From all of us at ZipRecruiter, Happy International Women’s Day!

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