The gender pay gap is more than just a number. It is an important symbol of inequality, for women and men.
This is why the gap matters.
*What does the 'gender pay gap' mean?
The gender pay gap measures the difference between the average earnings of women and men in the workforce. The gender pay gap is an internationally established measure of women’s position in the economy in comparison to men. The gender pay gap is the result of the social and economic factors that combine to reduce women’s earning capacity over their lifetime.
*What drives the gender pay gap?
The gap between women’s and men’s earnings is a symptom of a broader cultural problem in workplaces. It reflects the historic and systemic undervaluing of women’s workplace contributions and the significant barriers, including:
• Bias in hiring and pay decisions
• Lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in senior roles
• High rates of part-time work for women
• Women’s greater time out of the workforce for caring responsibilities impacting career progression and opportunities.
• Women’s disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work
The gender pay gap does not just impact a woman once in her life. It has a compounding effect that results in a woman’s reduced earning capacity over her lifetime.
On average, women are less likely to progress as far as men in their career and accumulate less money for retirement.
Women are more likely to spend their lives working, and caring for the home.
* Strategies For Narrowing The Gender Pay Gap
1. Raise the minimum wage
Women’s over-representation in low-wage work, such as service-sector jobs, is one of the factors that contribute to the gender pay gap. Raising the minimum wage would have an immediate effect in terms of narrowing the gender pay gap and lifting women out of poverty. This would also positively impact all low-wage workers regardless of gender.
2. Increase pay transparency
If you don’t know how much your peers are making, it can be difficult to determine whether or not you’re being compensated fairly. Many workplaces actively discourage employees from sharing salary information, while others foster a culture of secrecy that prevents employees from being comfortable disclosing their compensation to their coworkers.
3. Stop basing employee pay on salary history
When negotiating salary expectations with prospective applicants and new hires, employers often ask employees their salary history from previous jobs. In some cases, these hiring strategies are used to justify low pay based on how much an employee earned in former positions. Basing employee pay on salary history can also disproportionately affect women, who are already more likely to make less than their male peers, by perpetuating a cycle of unequal pay even across successive jobs and companies.
Instead of basing pay on salary history, employers should consider setting a clear, transparent salary range for the position they are hiring for, rather than basing the range on an employee’s past experience. Some states have even passed legislation to prevent employers from requiring applicants to disclose their salary history.
4. Improve work-life balance
According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, a better work-life balance could help to shrink the gender pay gap. Because women often take on additional responsibilities outside the workplace when it comes to childcare, they may find it more challenging to balance the demands of a family and their career. This can result in women working lower-paid, more flexible jobs, working only part-time, or leaving the workforce entirely.
Employers that make a commitment to work-life balance can create a flexible and welcoming work environment that attracts and retains working mothers and parents. Work-life balance can have a positive impact on all employees, not just mothers or families with children.