Skip to main content
Bernard Marr Follow
Women: Just Like Men — Only Cheaper?
Jun 5, 201642,383 views3,629 Likes324 Comments
It seems impossible that in the 21st century — in the time of smartphones and robots and frying pans that tell you when your food is cooked — we are still dealing with issues of gender inequality. But recent research has proven that the pay gap for women is still very much a force in the business world.
Evan Thornley, an Australian multimillionaire and co-founder of online advertising company LookSmart, was roundly criticized several years ago for a speech he gave in which he outlined all the many reasons he likes to hire women for his tech company — including that they are “like men, only cheaper.”
While Thornley is one of the few to make these sorts of comments in public, the data shows that he is not the only one guilty of these backwards thoughts and the actions to match:
A 2014 Harvard University study showed that women from the class of 2014 were making significantly less money at their first jobs — when their experience level, background, and family status (largely unmarried, with no children) should be the same as their male counterparts.
A 2007 Cornell study found that when you control for factors like experience, family, and education, women make only 91% of their male coworkers.
Men working full-time in 2015 earned more than women, with women earning only 83% of what men earned according to the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS).
From the age of 40 upwards, the gap is much wider in the UK, with men being paid substantially more on average than women.
The gender pay gap also varies by occupation – ranging from 4.3 per cent for sales and customer service, to 24.6 per cent for skilled trades occupations in April 2015.
On average in the United States, women earn 79% of what men earn; that number ranges as low as 65% depending on the state (Louisiana).
The gap is much worse for women of color in the United states, with Hispanic women earning only 59% of what white men earn on average.
While the gap tends to shrink when directly comparing men and women in the same job positions, a survey by Glassdoor found that not a single industry could claim equal pay.
High-skill and technology jobs tend to have the worst pay gaps.
I work with so many different companies, all over the world, and firmly believe that having a good balance between men and women is an important factor of companies that are successful and a good place to work at (or work with). For me there is not even a questions whether men and women are performing equally and I find it shocking that women still earn less.
But what can be done to address the problem?
Many (I would dare to say most) business leaders would agree that it is a problem and that women should be paid equally to men, yet their policies and procedures don’t reflect that reality. Yet there are simple steps a company can take to reduce the wage gap within the organisation.
Implement fair scheduling practices. Women are more likely to be the primary caretaker of children, and are often penalized when they must miss work or change schedules to accommodate a sick child, a trip to the dentist, etc. Fair and flexible scheduling practices for all employees can ease this burden.
Support wage transparency. When employees are not allowed to discuss their salaries, it can be difficult for women to know when they are being paid less, and challenging for them to negotiate for pay rises. Wage transparency policies can alleviate these problems.
Offer paid sick days. Everyone gets sick, yet not everyone has access to paid sick days. As mentioned above, women are more likely to be the primary caregivers of children and elderly, and therefore may need to take a sick day when someone else in the family is sick as well, putting their job at risk.
Offer comprehensive paid family and medical leave. The gender wage gap is often blamed on women leaving the workforce to have children, but this doesn’t need to be the case. Comprehensive family and medical leave policies can support women (and men!) while they start their families, and help them return to the workforce without their careers taking a hit.
Eliminate salary negotiation. Research has shown that on average, women fare more poorly in salary negotiations than men; it seems strange to reward men for being good negotiators, especially if the skill isn’t required for the job being performed. While it may be difficult to completely eliminate wage negotiations at the highest levels, it is simple to implement for entry level positions.
In my view, business leaders should be eager to make good on their talk about equal pay for equal work. Some of these suggestions might take longer to implement, but others can be made policy with the work of a single decision.
Equality & Diversity
Pay For Performance
Featured In Company Culture, Leadership & Management, Human Resources, Your Career, Careers: The Next Level, Career Development, Professional Women
LikeCommentShare on FacebookShare on Twitter3,629 likes324 comments
Add your comment
Add your comment
Practical Leadership Effectiveness Maestro
Simply get rid of the idea that men are more valuable than women, and vice versa. Pay everyone according to value. Lots of CEO pay would come down rather significantly, methinks. In fact, if you really want to highlight value, I’d pay Grandmothers a lot more, all other things being equal. They’d have raised one generation and helped raise another, and they don’t scare easily.
Like(5)Reply(12)4 months ago
Yi Shan, Mihaela Premor Andrijanić, Chris Jenkins, +2
Practical Leadership Effectiveness Maestro
Kate Lynch Seriously, Kate, you have greatly underestimated my experience and assume your experience to be universal in addition to downright patronizing me. Clearly, you are too young and in a box of your own and don’t get it. I have worked with all male colleagues and had done business almost exclusively with men in manufacturing for about 30 years. I have never been treated as less than the men maybe because I don’t make an issue of being defensive if they know more than I or if one of them falls into a better opportunity than I. I’m at times better than they at reading a customer’s response or motivation, and I can also read the guys with whom I work–and they know it and respect it—we even joke about it. As long as you’re focusing on that 15% (chicken feed, really…) you’ll always have an issue because you want to have an issue. It’s all in your mind, and what you look at is what you will have. Maybe “you’ll get it.”
Like4 months ago
Director of Communications and Content at Support.com
James Carson Actually the statistics show that women work more effectively and longer hours (which is not, on its own, an indicator of effectiveness) than men.
Like(1)4 months ago