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It’s 2023. Here’s the current state of the gender pay gap.
Hold up. What’s the gender pay gap?
The gender pay gap. Where do we begin? It’s the discrepancy in earnings between men and women in the workforce.
It’s typically calculated by comparing the average pay of all men in a particular job or industry to the average pay of all women in the same job or industry.
In other words, if men and women are doing the same job with the same level of experience and education, the gender pay gap refers to the fact that women earn less on average than men.
It’s more than a series of individual faults; it’s a deep, systemic, macro issue with significant economic and social consequences for our world at large.
Wait, there’s a gender pay gap? Isn’t it 2023??
Ugh, so you feel us. What’s worse: as of March 1, 2023, the PEW Research Center published the staggering reality that in the U.S., the gender pay gap hasn't changed much in two decades.
You heard that right. Unfortunately, the gender pay gap is a well-documented part of our reality across industries and sectors.
And while the gender pay gap affects all women, it does not affect all women equally. What do we mean by that? Women of color, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities, face unique challenges that compound the impact of the gender pay gap.
Women of color, for instance, experience a double bind because they face both racism and sexism in the workplace. According to data from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, African American women earn only 63 cents for every dollar earned by white men. Similarly, Latina women earn only 55 cents, Native American women earn 60 cents.
What does this disparity mean?
This disparity means that women of color have to quite simply do more to close that gap. More hours. More jobs. More freelance work. More hard conversations. More advocacy. Moreover, they are less likely to have access to benefits like paid leave, which exacerbates their financial insecurity.
LGBTQ+ women also face unique challenges in the workplace, as they are more likely to experience discrimination and harassment. Research has shown that LGBTQ+ workers are more likely to report experiencing discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, which can lead to negative mental health outcomes and impact their ability to secure employment or advance in their careers. This stuff compounds. According to a report by the Williams Institute at UCLA, lesbian and bisexual women earn less than their heterosexual counterparts, with bisexual women facing the greatest pay disparities.
Women with disabilities are also disproportionately affected by the gender pay gap. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, women with disabilities earn approximately 70 cents for every dollar earned by men without disabilities. Additionally, they are less likely to be employed and are more likely to live in poverty. Disability discrimination is also prevalent in the workplace, with many women with disabilities experiencing barriers to accessing education and training opportunities, as well as being passed over for promotion or having limited access to flexible work arrangements.
Wow I hate this. What can I do?
You’re already taking the first step: learn and talk about it. Here are some other ideas:
If you’re someone who hires and manages other, advocate, advocate, advocate! One way is to establish pay transparency on the micro and macro level. Talk about money, salary, income. Don’t let that information hide behind closed doors. As we say at HubSpot, sunlight is the best disinfectant. And boy does this issue need some disinfectant.
We’re encouraged to see more laws and policies enacted against the gap—laws that require employers to report pay data by race, gender, and other demographic factors.
Whoa whoa whoa. I don’t have that much power at my company.
Hey, everyone’s got power, so just make some noise and change however you can. Advocate for flexible work arrangements that accommodate the full spectrum of diverse lives that we wanna see in our companies, in our teams. Make your voice heard with policymakers to address the systemic inequalities that underlie the gender pay gap, like racial and gender discrimination, by implementing affirmative action policies and enforcing existing anti-discrimination laws. Research what the fight looks like in your local community.
We didn’t ask to be a part of this fight, but here we are. What we will say is this: everyone we’re fighting for is worth this work. Worth the awkward conversations. Worth the extra step.
How can I learn more?
Stay engaged by reading, researching, and jumping in to fight and advocate. Research groups like The B Team, a nonprofit that helps businesses align with the principles of sustainability, equality, and accountability. Organizations like these deliver robust solutions and options for all of us to join in and pursue equality.
Here’s to a future of equality and equity, where women—especially BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled women—are paid what they’re due and beyond.