wage gap representation cartoon

How to get paid like a man

I’m looking for a job. Fresh outta college and a stint in freelancing. Ideally, I’d like to make more money with less strain than the two-jobs-full-time-course-load lifestyle that I and many college students have struggled through.

However, I don’t want to rush into a job and make a huge mistake in the first inning of my career. Landing my next job only to find out that I make less than I’m worth, or less than a young white man could if he had my experience, would suck (excuse the millennial-ism). So I did a lot of research that I hope you might benefit from too.

Now, get ready to right-click open some tabs.

First things first: there is more than one wage gap.

The wage gap is not the same 80 cents on the dollar for every woman. Discrepancies in wage occur between ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and the old-fashioned man vs woman.

The gap between white men and women of any ethnicity varies–greatly. It’s worse for Latinas than it is for Native Americans, who are paid less than black women, who have it worse than white women, who make less than Asian-Americans, who can occasionally make less than lesbians.

Wage gaps exist between heterosexual men and men who are gay, bisexual, and/or transgender.

The wage gap is also regional. Women in Wyoming have it tougher than women in New York. At this point, it probably won’t surprise you that women being paid less than men is a worldwide epidemic.

But why stop there? Turns out, mothers make less than fathers. Women who give birth are often overlooked for promotions more than their non-mother, female co-workers. This effects a woman’s overall career.

There are reasonable-sounding excuses for this, such as maternity leave and family obligations cutting into work schedule flexibility, but men don’t suffer these losses when they start a family. They’re pay sometimes even increases.

If you find your identity at the intersection of any non-majority race, sexuality, gender, or age you can bet your wage gap is as unique as you are.

Does the wage gap stay the same throughout your lifetime? No. The straight-out-of-college wage gap averages 7%. This increases for the next 20+ years of a woman’s career to about 23%! However, this varies widely based on education and field.

It is a fact that women hold fewer corner office positions than men as well. While women make up the majority of professional-level workers and recent college grads, they “are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.

These sort of discrepancies mean that a man might make about $430,480 more than a woman in his lifetime.

That’s enough for this 5 bedroom, 3 bath, 4,708 square foot home!

Wage gaps have a sister: business funding gaps

Only one in four business loan applicants in a Fundera study were women. When women apply, they tend to get smaller loans with higher interest. And women’s businesses tend to be smaller than men’s.

Female entrepreneurs are also less likely to have outside investors and are more likely to self-finance their enterprise. This can mean that women’s personal credit is negatively impacted while they run their business.

This is interesting when you look at the data from a 2016 business report which found that women employ 9 million people and generate more than $1.6 trillion in revenue AND are growing at 5x the U.S. national average.

Multiple sources say that female-run businesses are smaller because of the types of services or good that they provide, such as Etsy shops, kitchen start-ups, and personal services. These up-and-coming/lesser-established fields were also blamed for lack of available business credit accounts through suppliers. According to a few of these sources, men go into businesses like construction, real estate, and things that get “them out of the home.

What you can do

Now that you’re very likely overwhelmed by the amount of issues you have to surmount to reach pay equality, let me provide some resources and tips:

Know the average

Start by searching your desired or existing job title using a website like Glassdoor, Indeed’s salary search, or PayScale. If you aren’t afraid of making calls, find a recruiter and ask for some salary information.

Beyond these regional average salaries, it’s important to know whether your being paid fairly for your existing workload. Go through the duties of similar job listings and see if they require more or less than the work you’re looking to/currently do. If another company offers a significantly higher salary for a job with nearly identical duties, it’s time to evaluate. Is the other company offering more because it’s in a more expensive city or higher-paying field? If not, it’s possible you’re being under valued.

Assess your value

What are some of your accomplishments? Were you part of a team that traveled abroad for additional training? Have you presented at a conference? What skill set do you have that might set you apart from the crowd or team that you’re part of?

Know the numbers when you can. I once interviewed the head of the public relations department for Sweetwater Sound. His advice was to begin and keep diligent records–especially for things that are hard to quantify. He had Excel sheets of data that he began and kept updated just to prove to his boss that he was doing his job well. He said this made all the difference in his salary and position within the company. Keeping track of this data wasn’t listed in his job description, and it probably won’t be in your’s–BUT DO IT ANYWAY!!

Ask & tell your co-workers

It’s taboo; I know. If you haven’t already seen the Adam Ruins Everything segment on why it’s important to share your salary, watch it. The video highlights how sharing your salary helps you and your co-workers. Consider sharing the video or these facts about pay secrecy beforehand to prep for the conversation.

Keep in mind that the “apples and oranges” argument that salaries shouldn’t be equal based on experience, education, etc. can be mitigated by talking to co-workers who are at your level in the company and who have similar educational and work backgrounds. If there are no such co-workers, try finding out what your predecessor(s) made. If there aren’t any of those, ask a friend from another company or contact a recruiter.

Learn about salary negotiation

YouTube is a great educator for topics like this one. I recommend starting with the kindly face of Grae Drake, Head of Education at Thinkful. Drake breaks down some of the misconceptions about negotiating your salary–empowering you to be a stronger job candidate by engaging in the negotiation process.

It’s important to get a variety of perspectives. If you want to be a fly on the wall of a man-to-man negotiation, watch these two guys role play a salary negotiation scenario and discuss valuable topics afterwards. If that is too direct, you can watch the sympathetic female’s approach. Get more tips from career strategist, Linda Raynier, who breaks negotiating down in 6 simple steps. These are just an introduction to the endless hours YouTube can educate you on this. Customize what you learn into a negotiation approach that works for you.

Please feel free to leave a comment with your favorite motivators or educators on the subjects of pay gaps and salary negotiation below!


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