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The wage gap costs women in the U.S. about $1.6 trillion a year, a new report finds.
Women earned 78 cents for every dollar that men made in 2022, according to National Partnership for Women and Families.
Researchers calculated the total cost to women of the wage gap by using statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, specifically data on all women who worked, whether in full- or part-time jobs, and those who took time off for illness or caregiving.
“We’ve had the pay gap for so long, people have become desensitized to it and think it’s normal,” said Jocelyn Frye, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families. It’s not something we should accept as normal. We shouldn’t normalize disparities which are not there. “
While the numbers are discouraging, experts say the information should motivate women to be more aggressive during pay negotiations.
“I don’t want it to dissuade women or make them feel less motivated to go out there and get the pay they deserve,” said career and money expert Mandi Woodruff-Santos.
3 factors behind the wage gap
Three factors are contributing to the persistent pay gap, said Frye:
- Caregiving responsibilities: Women on average tend to work fewer hours because they assume many of the caregiving responsibilities in their families, she said. According to the American Time Use Survey, women spent an average of 2.68 hours per day last year caring for children younger than 6. She said that occupational segregation is a major factor in the wage gap. Women are confined to lower-paying positions and often excluded from better-paying ones. Forty-two percent of the wage gap is the result of occupational segregation, which was exacerbated by the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Labor has found.
- Workplace discrimination: Women continue to face gender bias and discrimination. To that point, half of U.S. adults said women being treated differently by employers contributes to the pay gap, the Pew Research Center found.
- “If you intervene in those three issues alone, you could cut that gap significantly,” said Frye.What the pay gap means for women of color
Asian American women earned the most among female workers, making 89 cents for every dollar white, non-Hispanic male workers earn, the National Partnership for Women and Families found.
That pay scale worsens for each major racial or ethnic group in the country, with white female workers paid 74 cents to the dollar; Black female workers, 66 cents; and Latina female workers, 52 cents.
It’s important not to ignore the data, but rather let it motivate you, added Woodruff-Santos, who is the co-host of the podcast series “Brown Ambition” and founder of MandiMoney Makers.
“While data like this is important, it shouldn’t discourage women of all shades,” said Woodruff-Santos. You don’t need to be a statistician. Here are three ways to get ahead:
1. Expand your network
If your goal is to advance in your career you will need to expand your network. You need to be comfortable with speaking to different people in order for you make connections. Woodruff-Santos said that you should make sure your name is well known throughout the company, and that it’s associated with excellence. For example, showcase your expertise at work during monthly team meetings and, for a wider reach, on social media platforms.
“Make sure your name is well known throughout the company, and that it’s associated with excellence,” said Woodruff-Santos.
As you make yourself known to others, conversations may get more uncomfortable the higher you go as a woman — and even more so if you’re a woman of color, she added.
“Those rooms were not built with us in mind, but it’s important for you to keep pushing and to get yourself a seat at those tables,” said Woodruff-Santos.
2. Keep up to date with your market value.
Speak with recruiters and hiring managers about the compensation levels for people with your level of experience. This will give you an idea of what your current market worth is. You could use this information later to negotiate salary increases with your current employer. However, what makes for even better leverage is having a competing job offer, said Woodruff-Santos.
“Women often need to have proof that we are desired by another company to wake up our managers and higher-ups,” she said. If they don’t fear losing you, then you have less leverage.”
3. Digitalvision The icing, meanwhile, represents your additional incentives, like annual bonuses, stock grants or professional reimbursement funds your company offers.
“Those are financial benefits that we get that aren’t in our base salary but definitely are like cash in our pocket,” she said. The sprinkles represent unvested benefits like equity or matching 401(k). The “equalizer cherries” are the final touch, which address data such as the gender pay gap.