Pay Equity: Fair Compensation and Closing the Wage Gap


Compensation discrimination is a problem in the workplace. Fortunately, with pay equity policies, the Equal Pay Act, changes in the workforce, and ways to secure equal pay for both current and future employers, closing the gap is achievable.

Pay Equity Discrimination

Women comprise nearly half of the workforceOpens a new window and are typically the breadwinners or co-breadwinners. They have received more advanced degrees than their male counterparts and yet women are still earning less than men.

In 2016, women made 80.5 centsOpens a new window for every dollar that men made, putting the gender wage gap at 20 percent. In practically every occupation, women earn less money than men. In occupations requiring an advanced education, women only earn 66 percent of what men make. There’s discrimination in hiring practices, salaries and promotions. As the gender wage gap is tracked over time, it will take until 2059 for women to reach equal pay, according to research dataOpens a new window .

A lot of concern exists about the wage gap. While women have made huge strides over time and moved into jobs and occupations that were once only held by men, there are still changes that need to be made.

Pay inequality has huge economic consequences that can lead to poverty in families, especially in those where women are breadwinners putting a strain on the entire family. A woman may not be able to care properly for her family or afford the best education for her children. This stress can lead to stress-related illnesses and even emotional trauma.

The Gender Gap

A study on the wage gap explored 121 occupations and found occupations with the largest wage gaps were in the financial sector and fall under the category of personal financial advisor for 2017. By way of comparison, when a woman held the same position, she made under 60 percent the salary of men, leading to a gender gap of just over 41 percent.Opens a new window

The gender gap isn’t just in the finance, but with other occupations. The only areas where women had higher salaries were as cafeteria attendants, bar backs and with retail buying. In 107 occupations, women made 95 percent less than men. This put the ratio for gender earnings for full-time work at over 81 percent with average salaries at $770 for women while men earned $941.

Career Advancements Are Lower for Women

According to research data,Opens a new window over the course of their careers, women will move into fewer high-level roles than men. Men are about 70 percent more likely to advance to executive level roles than female counterparts. Men are also 142 percent more likely than women to take roles as a vice president or other high-level position. Women are more likely to stay in the same roles as individual contributors.

By the middle of their careers, about 60 percent of women will still be in contributor roles compared to 52 percent of men. Later in their careers, 43 percent of men will remain in these roles, as compared to 59 percent of women.

Unemployment Penalties Are Harder for Women

When addressing pay equity and career disruptions, unemployment affects women differently. Women who have been unemployed when they received a job offer made about 4 percent less than someone who didn’t have a career disruption.

The longer it takes for women to find work, the larger the penalties when they do finally go back to work. A woman out of work under three months will experience just over a 3.4 percent penalty, while those out of work a year were faced with a 7.3 percent penalty.

Child Rearing and Care for Relatives

If a woman leaves the workforce to raise her family, the gap can affect her longer when she’s ready to return to work. It’s 10 percent for women versus 2 percent for men.

Women have also left work to care for relatives: 5 percent for women, but only 3 percent for men. It’s also worth noting that men are more likely to take time off to advance their careers: 28 percent for men versus 20 percent for women.

Fighting for Equal Pay

One of the main reasons to fight for equal pay is that it would add $513 billionOpens a new window to the economy and cut the poverty level down for working women who need to provide for their families. To avoid lower salaries, women may want to switch from majors that would have them earning less.

Choosing Majors that Lead to Higher Paying Jobs

A recent study foundOpens a new window that women tend to choose majors that lead to lower paying jobs. Women pick more majors that would have them working in HR, health care administration, social work, and nursing. Men, on the other hand, choose computer science, engineering, physics, and architecture.

The Equal Pay Act was establishedOpens a new window to ensure women and men receive fair pay in the workplace. To help women receive equal pay, more transparency among employers needs to exist, as does more knowledge about starting salaries, holiday and vacation pay, bonuses, overtime pay and stock options.

Researching Pay Before Accepting New Jobs

For women entering the workforce or exploring career advancement, it’s important to research the company, salary and benefits offered to ensure equal compensation. Employers must also offer equal pay in their work policies based on the Department of Labor’s crackdown on unfair labor practices.Opens a new window With help from the EEOC and Department of Labor women can report unfair labor practices. It can be a slow and arduous process, but finding support from women’s groups can help.


While fighting for equal pay and equal treatment can prove challenging, it is achievable. Researching salaries beforehand, reporting unfair practices, and choosing majors that offer higher salaries are all ways to help secure equal pay both now and in the future.