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The Wage Gap is Alive  
We aren't surprised - But what can we do?

The Census Data has just been released – The Wage Gap between men and women still exists. In particular, men outnumber women in high paying jobs.

While 13% of men working full time make $75,000 or more, only 4% of women earn at this level.

The difference in wages has been decreasing steadily, but what can we do to make sure that we continue on the right path:


  • Organizations need to re-evaluate their compensation plans.  Do you utilize market surveys to determine what internal pay structures will be?  This can perpetuate the issue of paying less for positions that have historically been dominated by females.  Instead, look at the requirements of the job like experience and education and also the responsibilities.  Does the job require overseeing others and using creative problem-solving or does the position have protocols in place for every task?

  • Implement or strengthen internal mentoring programs.  These programs can provide valuable access to informal information about how to get ahead within an organization and can also provide exposure that would otherwise not be available.  A strong mentoring program will increase the odds that women and minorities will receive promotions.

  • Look at your hire rate practices.  Does your organization routinely ask candidates what they were last making and then offer a hire rate just above that?  This can penalize women who have left the workforce for a period of time.  Their last salary will not have kept up with the market.  A better strategy is to place candidates into your wage structure at a salary that is consistent with others with similar education and experience in the role. 


  • Be an advocate for your career and wage.  Know what the going rates are for your position and ask to stay at a competitive wage.  If you don’t feel that you are being paid fairly where you are then go somewhere else.

  • Be a cheerleader for your own accomplishments.  Obviously you don’t want to go overboard with this one, forsaking the team altogether.  But, women tend to devalue their accomplishments and are not nearly as good as men at making sure that they get credit for their successes.  If you complete a project and are proud of it, make sure that your boss knows. And let your boss’ boss know about it while you are at it too.  An easy way to do this is to send out a monthly status report of all of your activities.  Be sure to include any specific outcomes as well For example, “implemented “X” program which resulted in savings of $300,000 annually”.  When it comes time for a promotion you will be more likely to be considered a strong contender right out of the gate.

  • If you do leave the workforce for a period try to stay current in your profession while you are gone.  See article Preparing to re-enter the Workforce for strategies to help. 

  • When you are ready to re-enter the workforce, do your homework before you begin to interview.  Know what the going wages are in your profession for the local area.  And when they ask you what you are looking to make or what your last salary was, don’t tell them.  Instead, use either of the following strategies:

    • Tell them that you would like to make an equitable salary within their organization and pay structure based on your experience, education and anything else that you have to offer. 

    • Use the Total Compensation defense.  Tell them that you can not really quote a salary because you are interested in looking at their whole compensation program as a package.  The health benefits, promotional opportunities, work environment and chances to learn, among other things, will all factor in to the salary that you would want.  You can’t possibly give them an accurate figure without having all of the relevant information. 


  • Continue the current "Glass Ceiling Audits" and expand the requirements to include a broader range of employers.  Unfortunately, even though it is the right thing to do, not all organizations will work diligently to decrease the wage gap.  The pain of staying the same has to be worse than the pain of changing.  The added pressure of avoiding an audit, fines or lost business is an unfortunate necessity.

The numbers continue to look better.  We’re making great strides but there is obviously a long way to go!

Kirsten Ross is mother of two sons and is a Certified Human Resource Professional (SPHR) dedicated to helping women achieve more life balance and to transforming the design of work.

Visit at to search our revolutionary flexible work job board featuring more than 35,000 fresh work from home, part time, job share, flex time and telecommuting opportunities, search for a job share partner or read valuable career, life balance and family articles.  You may also email her at



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