Ally Explains the Gender Pay Gap And What It Means For Your Career
It’s no question that the women’s movement has made quite the difference over the last century. Unfortunately, we’re still a long way from true equality between women and men. Though, people will always try to tell you that women, especially in the West, really can’t complain, I beg to disagree. A lot still has to be done to overcome the gender pay gap that still exists in 2021.
Gender Pay Gap – Facts and Figures
So what is the gender pay gap? The gender pay gap or gender wage gap is the difference between the average gross hourly earnings (excluding special payments) of women relative to the gross hourly earnings of men.
According to the European Commission, the EU gender pay gap is 14.1%. Only minor changes occurred over the last decade. On average women earn 14.1% less per hour than men. So, women often earn less than men even if they work in equal positions.
Why Do Women Earn Less?
Now, you’re probably wondering why do women earn less? Legal, social and economic factors contribute to the gender pay gap and extend beyond ‘equal pay for equal work’. This pertains to inequalities women have faced historically as well as to accessing work and progressing at work i.e. promotions.
On average, women spend fewer hours in paid work than men. Whereas only 8 % of men in the EU worked part-time in 2019, almost a third of all women across the EU (30.7 %) did.
Women are also still seen as the primary caregivers of the family. The average woman works more weekly hours, but those aren’t in paid work. Similarly, they are overrepresented in relatively low-paying sectors such as care and education. In comparison, men are over proportionally represented in high-paying jobs such as engineering, science or technology.
You can find more detailed explanations on why women earn less here.
The gender pay gap is also one of the reasons why many women in their 20s feel like being pressured into deciding between having a family or a career. Fun fact: the higher up the corporate ladder, the fewer women you’ll find.
The Influence of Patriarchy and Gender Roles on Women
In contemporary patriarchal society, gender roles still have a big influence on female career choices, contributing to the gender pay gap.
Gender stereotypes used to be very static. These fixed notions are still passed on from generation to generation. And even if we are able to dismantle those stereotypes, they might still subconsciously influence us.
Often women still find it easier to identify themselves with the caring, nurturing teacher than the cutthroat marketing executive. Women are also less likely to demand higher pay because they are taught to be demure and polite while men are taught to be confident and bold.
Motherhood is another big issue related to the gender pay gap. Even though companies are working to improve this situation, there are many accounts of women who feel their career has stagnated after having their child.
Learnings From the Gender Pay Gap
Society, politicians, and many companies have stepped their game up and work on closing the gender pay gap. However, there are still a lot of things we as women can do to avoid falling into the gender pay gap.
So here are learnings that can help you overcome the gender pay gap:
- Evaluate your career choice. As I’ve said, there are certain jobs that are less well paid and often automatically associated with women. Also there are certain jobs, companies and industries that have a higher gender pay gap than another. So it’s crucial that you do your research!
- Be bold. You are objectively doing great work, but feel like or find out you earn less than someone in a similar position? Be bold enough to ask for a raise and/or a promotion. Don’t be too afraid of getting laid off because you rightfully ask for more money. Generally, it’s more expensive for a company to hire a replacement than it is to raise your salary.
- Be transparent. Start talking about money with family members, friends and co-workers. Of course this is a sensitive subject, but egnanging in these discussions especially with other women will help you and them to figure out where you stand and if you have to take action with regard to your salary. Together you can decrease the perceived power company’s have in salary negotiations.
- Dismantle the stereotypes. Are you currently middle of choosing your future career path? Are you stuck between what you want to do and expectations from others? Be brave! Question your options, research, talk to others and decide what feels right for you.
- Don’t fall for the motherhood stigma. You can be a successful business woman and a mother. There are enough examples out there which prove this age-old stigma wrong. Just think about 31 year old Whitney Wolfe herd, CEO of Bumble. If you are working for a company that offers unequal opportunities to women based on the fact that women are the ones naturally responsible for the pregnancy part of having a baby, consider looking for another job.
- Ask for help. a) With regard to having children: discuss with your partner how you as a couple want to handle your respective careers and being parents b) if you have trouble with salary negotiations, look for online and offline resources or even consider booking a session of negotiation training c) if you need more information on how to overcome the gender pay gap, ask other women for advice or research online. There is tonnes of great material out there!
Here are some more sources I found useful:
- This article by Catalyst for a comprehensive overview of numbers on women in management
- This interview by herMoney *German
- This article by Forbes on how to ask for a raise
The female founders of Ooia are a good example for women who are successful business women and mothers. If you want to read more about what you can learn for them, check out this article.
If you have personally been affected by the gender pay gap and want to share your story on sheCareer, please feel free to reach out!
Be right back,