Thinking about women and compensation…


A recent conversation got me curious about the gender pay gap. In just a few minutes of research, I confirmed that:

  • It’s existed for centuries…or longer.
  • It first became an item of political interest in the 1860s.
  • By the mid-1950s pay for women was hovering around 60% of men’s.
  • Despite legal, legislative, and media attention in the intervening decades, it’s still alive and well in 2024.
  • Today, women in the US are earning 84 cents for every dollar a man makes.
  • Yes, we’ve gained about 20 cents. It took 80 years.
  • 84 cents is the equivalent of working with no pay for about 2 months of the year.
  • The number is much more dismal for women of color.

I assumed professional women must be doing better than the overall average. But when I dug into the details I learned the number is worse than $0.84 for women in every professional category on which I could find stats.

Does that surprise you as much as it did me?

Of course there are many contributing factors for the gender pay discrepancy. One of them is whether and how successfully women negotiate, compared to men.

Research clearly shows that women who negotiate assertively on their own behalf pay a social penalty men don’t pay. Not fair, but very real.

Perceiving that likely backlash – or perhaps having experienced it – it makes sense that a woman might think twice about asking her employer for what she needs, wants, and deserves.

Thinking about how to improve the gender pay gap in the aggregate is overwhelming. But like any big endeavor, it can be broken down into doable, bite-sized pieces. You can make a meaningful difference by paying attention to what is in your control.

What I’ve done is boil down over 30 years of observing successful career negotiations – by men and women – into a free downloadable guide I can share with others (grab it here if you’re interested).

For decision-makers, you have the power to identify and remedy pay discrepancies within your organizations.

For professional women, you have the power to make sure you are getting everything you need, want, and deserve from your career. (Go ahead and download that free gift now!)

For everyone else, you have the power to notice and speak up when things don’t seem right.

Lorri Anderson

Lorri Anderson

Lorri Anderson is an expert consultant to businesses and a powerful coach to individuals. After a long and rich career as a strategic HR executive, she is driven to give back by changing the Human Experience in today’s workplaces, one business or human at a time.

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