Salaries Aren’t the Only Workplace Gender Gap Problem

Men and women vary sharply in their level of knowledge of the issue.
(Photo: Paul Bradbury/Getty Images)
Feb 25, 2016· 2 MIN READ
TakePart editorial fellow Nicole Mormann covers a variety of topics, including social justice, entertainment, and environment.

The gender pay gap exists across all professions, with the exception of female stock clerks and order fillers, who make more than their male colleagues. But considering how long this has been going on and how much it’s covered in the press, many assume everyone knows about the disparity.

A new survey finds that’s not necessarily so, especially when it comes to those unaffected by discrepancies in pay between men and women.

CareerBuilder, one of the largest online job sites in the U.S., released a survey on Thursday revealing that more than half of the 3,200 workers it interviewed agree that men and women don’t earn equal pay for performing the same job, and that they are not given similar opportunities to advance in the workplace. Even those who handle our I-9 and W-4 paperwork—and they would know—admit it: About a fifth of the more than 220 human resources managers surveyed said that at their companies, men earn more.

While a majority of workers agree that gender inequality exists in the workplace, men are less likely to believe as much. Those who’ve been in the workplace longer were more likely to believe it.

According to the survey, 56 percent of men believe they receive equal pay to women, and about 60 percent think women have the same advancement opportunities. The numbers for women, however, were sharply divergent: Only 35 percent think they receive equal pay to men, and 39 percent say they’re given equal opportunity for growth at their company.

Comparing salaries, it’s hard to deny that women generally get paid way less than men.

The survey looked at the disparity between men’s and women’s wages by breaking them into three categories: those who earn less than $35,000 a year, those who earn $50,000 or more, and those who pull in six figures.

From those findings, CareerBuilder found that women were twice as likely as men to make $35,000 or less, while men were nearly twice as likely to earn $50,000 or more and about three times as likely to make $100,000 or more.

“While we continue to make strides in gender equality in the workplace, there’s more work to be done,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, said in the survey. “It is critical that employers strive to equal the playing field for all employees, regardless of their gender, and understand that not every employee fits the same mold or career path.”

The survey didn’t take into account job titles or descriptions. Men are more likely to work in dangerous jobs, men work longer hours than women, and men choose higher-paying professions. Women are also more likely to take extended time off to care for children, cutting into the experience building that contributes to promotions and higher salaries. Another clue to a possible reason for a pay gap is in the CareerBuilder survey: Women tend to value feeling recognized, while men say it’s their salary that keeps them satisfied at their job.

Women’s advocates say that powerful social forces and norms and lack of support from male peers and supervisors, as well as company and government policies, encourage such career paths and related decisions.

Millennial workers may be nearer to closing the wage gap than those with more experience in the workplace. The majority of workers ages 18 to 24 said they believe men and women earn equal pay in the workplace, compared with about half or less of older age groups that shared a similar sentiment. And they’re not wrong either.

A 2013 Pew Research Study found that young women today are the first in history to start their careers at near parity with their male colleagues. Childless women between 22 and 30 earned more than similar males in most metro areas in 2008. There are more young women than men who’ve earned their bachelor’s degree, and they share many of the same views about work with their male colleagues. Yet when it comes to wanting a boss or top management job, young women are more likely to say no than men.

It turns out that while younger women are just as qualified as men, it’s the idea of their future that holds them back at work. Those who consider having children later on in life are three times as likely as millennial men to think being a working parent will put a damper on their career advancement. Though there are other factors that keep women from advancing, including gender stereotyping and discrimination, these are harder to quantify as key causes of disparity.

Whether underpaid or overpaid, 64 percent of women in the CareerBuilder survey said they are satisfied with their job overall; 63 percent of men agreed.