Today is Equal Pay Day, the day we celebrate the fact that men and women earn the same amount for doing the same work. Wait, no, that's not true. It's hard to believe that in 2016 we have to have this day, but Equal Pay Day is held each April to mark how far into the year a woman must work to earn what a man in the same position earned in the previous year.
To commemorate the day, Glassdoor held a round-table discussion about gender pay gaps featuring Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and US women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe (who is part of the group suing for being paid less than their male counterparts) in New York City. The discussion focused on data coming out of Glassdoor's Gender Pay Gap study and included thoughtful takeaways on the reasons behind the gap.
- The gender pay gap is real. Hillary Clinton explained, "The typical woman working full time in 2014 was paid 79 percent of what men were paid. When you break it down for African-American women, it was 60 percent, and for Latinas, it was 55 percent. And the last time I checked, there's no discount for being a woman — groceries don't cost less for us." Those numbers translate into big bucks over the long haul — over their lifetime, that would mean a loss of $400,000 for a white woman, $900,000 for an African-American woman, and $1 million for a Latina woman. The first time the government took action on this issue was when President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963; the next year, Congress banned sex discrimination at work.
- The pay gap has changed very little over the past decade. Pay gap numbers are still similar to what they were in the early 2000s. What's more, the Paycheck Fairness Act was first introduced in 1997 and has been reintroduced nine times but has yet to be voted into law. Among other things, it would punish employers for retaliating against workers who share wage information and would introduce programs that train women in ways to better negotiate their wages.
- Open bias and discrimination may be a partial cause of the gender pay gap, but they're not the main cause. According to Glassdoor, "occupation and industry sorting" systematically steer women and men down different career paths, which ultimately results in pay discrepancies. For example, girls are traditionally pushed toward jobs other than technology and science.
- It's not just a women's issue. "That's wrong," Clinton exclaimed. "If you're a man married to a woman, a man who is the son of a working woman, or the father to a young working woman, this is your problem, too." And for those who say she's waving the gender card at the issue, Clinton exclaimed, "What I say to that is, if talking about equal pay and paid leave and more opportunities for women and girls is playing the gender card, then deal me in."
- Younger workers see a smaller gender pay gap than more experienced workers. The Glassdoor study reveals that workers between 18 and 24 years old face an "adjusted" gender pay gap of 2.2 percent, while workers between 55 and 64 years old see a gender pay gap of 10.5 percent.
- Millennials have an opportunity to turn things around. "We have a culture now of sharing," said Tracy Sturdivant, cofounder and coexecutive director of Make It Work. "I share my food pictures, I share my vacation photos — but there's a culture of sharing on social media that millennials are driving. So that culture shift is beginning to happen whether we like it or not and that is the future of work."
- Women don't often realize that they're being paid inequitably because culturally, we're brought up to not discuss money. Glassdoor reveals that 65 percent of men know "how pay is determined" at their company, but only 53 percent of women share in that understanding. Clinton and the members of the round table called for greater transparency and a cultural shift to make conversations about pay and benefits more comfortable.
While all of these statistics sound depressing, Clinton focused on the positive. "I'm actually optimistic," she concluded. "But I'm also very focused on making sure we don't lose the impetus behind this conversation." She emphasized that she would do everything she could to close the gap. "It's something that is long overdue, but I know we've just got to keep moving forward."