The gender pay gap may seem like a fading issue but, scratch the surface (or peer through the glass ceiling), and there’s evidence it remains. A recent Payscale report shows women still earn remarkably less and move up the ladder at a slower pace than men. The fact is that among all workers in the U.S., women are paid as little as 78 cents for every dollar men earn. By the age of 45, men are 142% more likely to in VP or C-suite roles than their female counterparts.
Employers are trying to remedy this discrepancy. Leading companies like Amazon, American Express, Cisco, and Google have stopped asking for salary history (which might lead to unconscious gender bias), and some states and cities outside Texas have banned it. In France, companies with more than 250 employees must now install tracking software that identifies pay inequality and have been given three years to fix it.
But unconscious bias is real, and it’s tricky for even well-meaning, proactive companies to overcome. So what can you do to help bridge the gap for yourself?
- Go ahead and apply. A Hewlett-Packard study found women only applied for jobs and promotions when they met 100% of the qualifications, while men tend to apply if they meet as little as 60%. This isn’t due to a lack of confidence, by the way. The study found that women tend to be more literal, assuming they would only be wasting time if they didn’t meet the listed job requirements. If your competition isn’t making this assumption, don’t do it, either. If a position looks tempting and you’re confident you’d do it justice, go ahead and apply.
- Negotiate. Glassdoor found that women negotiated salary far less than their male counterparts: 68% of women accept an initial offer without negotiating while only 52% of men do the same. But guess what? More than 80% of employers expect you to negotiate your salary. Unless a salary cap is revealed to you, assume there’s wiggle room if you need it.
- Do your research. With sites like Glassdoor, PayScale, and CareerBuilder, you can research and compare salaries and use tools that can help you decide your specific market value. You may even find the salary history for the specific position you’re interested in. All Texas government job salaries are listed online, including jobs at state universities like The University of Texas and Texas A&M. A recruiter, particularly those who focus on executive search, can help you expertly craft your salary requirements.
- Be careful with salary history. As we mentioned earlier, the salary history question is fading away, particularly because it’s illegal to ask it in a growing number of jurisdictions. But it’s not illegal to ask in Texas (yet), and you must understand: the question is a valuable tool used by recruiters and hiring managers to determine your fit for a job. But if it worries you, discuss it with your recruiter. There are ways to avoid answering and, instead, skip to what you hope to make at the position. Better yet, find out what they’re willing to offer you first. Not only can your recruiter advise you on how to answer, but they can also consult the hiring manager on why you may deserve a significant leap in pay.
- Be reasonable. The employer may not be able to meet your salary demands. Listen to their reasoning and ask if there could be a way to get you to the salary you want incrementally. Also, weigh the value of the benefits you’re being offered and find out if there’s a way to negotiate there. If you know people who work at the company, ask them if they generally feel compensation and promotions are doled out fairly. And then check your gut: Are you pleased with the answers you’ve gotten?
In the end, if you’re suspicious gender bias is at play—either deliberately or unconsciously—you may need to walk away. Companies that don’t understand or aren’t willing to close the gender pay gap may need to feel the agony of watching top candidates pass them by before real changes are made.
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