What is the gender pay(wage) gap?
The gender pay gap is the gap between what men and women are paid. Most commonly, it refers to the median annual pay of all women who work full time and year-round, compared to the pay of a similar cohort of men.
Nationally, the wage gap is about 80%. Which means women have to work until the month of April to earn what men earned in the previous year. Unfortunately, here in Montana the gap is 69%. For women of color the wage gap is much larger; 63% for African American women, 58% for Native American Women, and 54% for Hispanic women.
What can we do to close the gap?
The gender wage gap is a complex problem interwoven within our homes, schools, places of work, and government. Every institution and individual have a part in eliminating the gap. While it is unfortunate there are many contributors to the wage gap, the good news is there are just as many ways to combat it. Listed below are the top areas of focus from Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force to eradicate the wage gap in Montana.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics): Studies show the wage gap in STEM related occupations are lower. Exposing women to STEM can encourage the pursuit of a high paying career path and create a modern workforce. Women in STEM fields are closing the skills gap and the wage gap.
Wage Negotiation: Studies show that both men and women are uncomfortable with wage negotiation, but women are far more uncomfortable, often resulting in significantly lower pay. Negotiation trainings teach women to identify and articulate their value, develop strategies to ask for more, and how to target a specific salary.
Best Business Practices: Employers benefit from equal pay practices by experiencing higher productivity, increased competitiveness in the hiring market, and reduced costly turnover. Best business practices include:
- Equitable Hiring- Asking for a salary history can create unintended bias towards the applicant and perpetuate unequal pay.
- Pay Check Transparency- When wages are made public, women can see what their male counterparts are making and research suggests employees work harder when this information available.
- Conduct a Pay Audit- Asses how and what each employee is being paid based on equity.