We Won't Rest Until The Wage Gap is Eliminated

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: March 5, 2012

"Should men and women be treated as equals?"

Silly question right? Of course they should. This is 2012 when women make up nearly half the workforce and have become the primary or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of all American families, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Not to mention more women than men are earning college degrees and the number of female executives continues to rise.

But it might surprise you to learn women only make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. And it's been that way for quite some time.

When the Equal Pay Act was passed by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, women earned 60 cents to a man's dollar, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics. That number remained the same into the early 1980s and finally made some progress when it climbed to 71 cents in 1995. Although it rose to 77 cents in 2008, it has been stalled there for four years and some think the wage gap between men and women has actually widened of late.

As a leading compensation company, we know this is unacceptable and that's why we're taking action by providing women with opportunities to shrink the gap in pay.

Knowing what your job pays is an integral part of negotiating a fair wage. With that in mind, our data is not broken down by gender because of the belief that two equally qualified workers doing the exact same job should receive identical paychecks at the end of the week. Too bad that is not the reality of the situation.

So when Salary.com was approached by members of the U.S. Department of Labor and President Barack Obama's Equal Pay Task Force to participate in this year's Equal Pay Day event, we jumped at the opportunity.

At the request of government officials, Salary.com has made a commitment to assist in this year's Equal Pay App Challenge. Salary.com is allowing developers to harness its 100 percent employer-reported salary data – which includes information regarding more than 4,000 jobs – to create an application that highlights the existing wage gap between the sexes. By adding our private sector salary data to the U.S. Department of Labor's publicly available information, developers can create applications that present information in an easy-to-use medium. The Equal Pay Task Force is assembling a team of innovators with an expertise in technology to collaborate with equal pay experts to help employees who are not compensated fairly.

The issue of fair pay is one that strikes at the heart of what Salary.com values mightily. Our 2011 survey of approximately 2,000 people found only 30 percent of women always negotiate following a job offer, compared to 46 percent of men. Furthermore, more than one-quarter of women – 26 percent -- said they don't negotiate salary because they feel they lack the necessary skills.

That's why Salary.com has repeatedly brought in experts to educate employees about fair wages and negotiation tactics they can use during job interviews, such as noted authors Linda Babcock and Evelyn Murphy. Babcock wrote the book "Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want," and "Women Don’t Ask," and also founded the Program for Research and Outreach on Gender Equity in Society to help teach women and girls the value of negotiation. Murphy founded the WAGE (Women Are Getting Even) Project to end discrimination against working women, and also wrote "Getting Even: Why Women Aren't Paid Like Men and What to Do About It."

Educators such as Babcock and Murphy are working hard to build on the progress of past women. Women who began their fight in the 1930s when the Federal Economic Act banned wives of federal employees from holding government positions, and railed against the National Recovery Act that limited women with government jobs to 25 percent of a male employee’s salary. Even as recently as the 1960s, job advertisements were separated by sex. Yet close to 50 years later, women still don't earn an equal wage and the wage gap between the sexes has closed at a rate of less than half a penny a year since 1963.

The bottom line is the wage gap still exists, many women are not being paid fairly, and we all have a lot of work to do to solve this problem.

That's why Salary.com is pleased to be doing its part to eliminate the wage gap and bring an end to wage discrimination in the workplace. Developers can visit https://www.salary.com/equal-pay-app-challenge  or www.challenge.gov to learn more about the Equal Pay App Challenge.