Advice for a Woman Being Paid Less Than Her Male Counterpart

First, you're going to be angry when you discover the new guy (or maybe it's the old one) is making more than you for the same job. Maybe, if you're a bit naive like me, you'll be shocked — shocked! — that gender-based pay disparity still exists.It does. Nationally, women earn 80 percent of what similarly situated men do, and the gap is even wider for women of color, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research. In Oklahoma, where I worked, the ratio is 77 percent. In Texas, it's 81 percent.Discovering pay inequity is easy if you work for a public institution, as I did, because salaries are a matter of public record. Even so, my boss once angrily forbade me to discuss pay with my colleagues — a tactic common at private companies, where sharing information is the only way workers can uncover inequity. Not knowing about wage inequities can perpetuate them, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity, a broad coalition working to end wage discrimination against women and minorities. So talk.Having discovered you're earning less, you'll probably begin comparing yourself to the man on every conceivable measure: Education? Experience? Workload? Talent? Dedication? You'll wrack your brain to come up with a reason (other than gender) that he's taking home thousands of dollars more than you.This step — comparing — is important because the federal Equal Pay Act prohibits wage discrimination between male and female colleagues "who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility under similar working conditions."Let's say you decide your jobs are substantially equal. You may want to go straight to the boss to point out the discrepancy, sure that he (she?) is simply unaware and will want to correct it immediately. Don't count on it. I speak from experience.I worked for a large public university that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion. Job postings routinely include language that women and minorities are particularly urged to apply. I even participated in an administration-sponsored group to help women employees "thrive." But after I sought pay equity with a male counterpart, those in charge ignored me, isolated me, denied me preferred assignments and ultimately rejected my request.So before taking this on, do your homework. Do you know what others in your field and at your institution earn? Ideally, learn this before you accept a job, even if the salary offered sounds generous. What seems generous now may seem less so if you discover a male colleague doing the same for more.You can be proactive and still be thwarted. Carrie Gracie, the BBC's China editor, accepted that job in 2013 on the condition that she be paid the same as her male counterparts, The New Yorker reported. She found out four years later that she and another woman had been earning about 50 percent less than the British media giant's two male international editors, the magazine said. The BBC later apologized and paid up.  Continue reading...

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