Pay and Gender, An Unfortunate Pairing

Unless you’re taking your first breath, you know about the gender pay gap. On average, men make more than women in almost every occupation. Women’s median weekly earnings are lower in nearly all occupations, whether they work in female-dominated occupations, male-dominated occupations, or occupations dominated by a mix of females and males (Women’s Policy Research The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation Fact Sheet). The World Economic Forum calculates complex global gender gaps by country and region. Their report, The Global Gender Gap 2012, underscores it’s negative implications.

There are some people who naively think that the gender gap can be explained by women taking time off with children but The American Association of University Women (AAUW) research, which studied full-time, year-round women workers, found that among full-time workers only a year after college graduation, women were paid just 82% of what their male counterparts were paid. Their research also found that women face a pay gap that grows with age.

This gap exists in the learning industry and here’s an example. The eLearning Guild recently completed a salary survey. The report included 2,476 (41.80%) male and 3,447 (58.20%) female respondents, including 13% contractors, 86.4% employees, and 0.6% unemployed. Of people responding to the survey, 89.3% were full-time and 10.7% were part time. As the Guild’s 2014 Salary Infographic shows (Figure 1), women’s average salaries in 2014 were 9.7%, on average, lower than men’s average salaries and 4.4% lower than the global average salary. Figure 2 from the Guild salary report shows that for most countries and regions, women’s salaries are less than men’s salaries. India was an exception this year.


Figure 1. Salary Differences by Gender

Fig 12 Global By Gender

Figure 2. Average Salary by Gender

People (mostly women) wrote to me (Patti Shank, the author of the report) to ask if it could be explained by education level or job responsibilities. The answer is “No.” The difference is explained, as it is in other fields, primarily by gender.

Meghan Casserly, staff writer at Forbes, says there’s an expectation wage gap between men and women in the workforce. Women expect lower wages than men and get them. She says that research from Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever shows that women simply don’t negotiate so they end up with lower wages to begin with and since raises compound on existing pay, men’s pay tends to rise faster. Maha Atal, a Forbes contributor, provides a list of sites to help with the wage gap.

American Association of University Women. The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, 2013 edition. AAUW, 2013.

Atal, Maha. “How much do you know about the gender pay gap?” Forbes. 18 April 2012.

Casserly, Megan. “The Real Origins Of The Gender Pay Gap—And How We Can Turn It Around.” Forbes. 5 July 2012.

Hausmann, Ricardo, Laura D. Tyson, and Saadia Zahidi. The World Economic Forum: The Global Gender Pay Gap Report 2012. World Economic Forum, 2012.

Hegewisch, Ariane, Claudia Williams, and Vanessa Harbin. The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation. Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2012.

Shank, Patti. 2014 Global eLearning Salary & Compensation Report.

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