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Mind the Gap, Is the Gender Pay Gap Here to Stay?

The gender pay gap is not new. Studies are conducted regularly to monitor its current state, and see if progress is being made. But, it is starting to look that the gender pay gap is going to remain for quite some time. One current estimate estimates it will remain until the year 2069. If you want to beat the odds, you first need to understand the gender pay gap today.

The Current Gender Pay Gap

Accountancy firm Deloitte completed the analysis that shows the pay gap remaining until 2069. As of 2016, the gap sits at 9.4 percent, or approximately £1.30 an hour. To put that in perspective, based on a 40 hour work week, women make around £2,704 less a year than men.

The reason for the gap includes many variables. For one, part of the difference is related to the career paths being pursued by men versus women. The pay gap across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields has a slightly smaller gap than other fields, coming in at 8 percent. In contrast, the discrepancies across the health care field was an astounding 14 percent.

Certain fields showed no pay gap at all. These included medicine, dentistry, engineering, and technology. This means that the gap is not solely based on pay inequality. Factors including career path chosen, and educational pursuits also play a factor.

Closing the Gap through Education and Career Choice

The simplest way to close the gender pay gap is to encourage more women to pursue careers in the STEM fields. The earning potential of women in STEM careers starts much higher than many other opportunities. Since they start with higher earnings, women in these jobs can reach higher salaries as their career progresses.

Girls in school need to be encouraged to explore their interests in math and various sciences. By introducing the subjects early in their education, they are more likely to maintain an interest over time. They will also have a stronger foundation upon which to further their educations.

Improve Negotiating Skills to Increase Earnings Potential

Women also need to develop stronger negotiating skills. Many women do not negotiate effectively for higher starting salaries or raises. In one study, only 7 percent of women negotiated their salary, while 57 percent of men chose to negotiate. Additionally, those who negotiated tended to receive wages around 7 percent higher. Through negotiating efforts alone, the 9.4 percent gender pay gap could be closed significantly.

To negotiate effectively, you must be prepared. Research the average salary for a person working in the position for which you are interviewing. Know what you bring to the table, and use that information to justify why a higher salary is appropriate. Explain how your skills benefit the entire organization, and the bottom line. Show that by hiring you, you can help the company solve specific problems areas. This allows you to present yourself as a solution to a problem, and that by being the solution, the organization will receive more in return that it invests in your salary.

The Bottom Line

While the gender pay gap exists today, it does not have to remain forever. By increasing educational opportunities for girls interested in STEM fields, and by improving their negotiating skills, maybe we can have the gap closed well before 2069. It is certainly worth a try.

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