The idea that women make 79 cents to that of their male peers is a complicated one.
According to the online platform for employers to connect with potential employees Hired, men were offered higher salaries 69 percent of the time. “…on average companies offer women 3 [percent] less than men for the same roles, with some companies offering as low as 30 [percent] less,” the website reports.
However, for women of color, there’s even more variation. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) reports, “Asian American women’s salaries show the smallest gender pay gap, at 85 percent of white men’s earnings. The gap was largest for Hispanic and Latina women, who were paid only 54 percent of what white men were paid in 2015.”
In New Hampshire alone, women make nearly a quarter less than men. The AAUW stated in a 2015 report that on average men working full-time make $56,525 yearly compared to women at $43,172.
Due to these statistics and others, a day dedicated to raising awareness on inequality this has been made: Equal Pay Day held on April 4 this year. This day is based on the exact day when white women make the same money as a white man does in a typical year period.
A presentation on salary negotiation was given at Keene State College in efforts to help close the gender gap. Organizers of the event said it’s a two-way street of the employers offering equal opportunities and employees negotiating a fair wage.
There were four steps presented at the event, starting with knowing one’s value. Participants were asked to write their skills and accomplishments based on experience and education.
Academic and Career Advisor and co-organizer of the event Louise Ewing said people should specify their resume and cover letter to the specific job they’re applying for.
The next step was about benchmarking a salary and benefits. This included researching the job of choice and setting a resistance point (the lowest one would go for) and a bolstering range (taking one’s optimal salary and increasing it).
Ewing said a good rule of thumb was to increase it by 15 to 20 percent depending on the level of education and experience included. Budgeting was also brought up as an essential thing to look at when figuring out one’s optimal salary. Ewing said a helpful formula included 50 percent of a budget going to needs, 20 percent going to savings and debts and 30 percent going to wants.
The third point brought up was knowing one’s strategy. Participants of the event were told to remember to stay “positive and flexible.” This was especially reinforced when a potential employee being asked what they wanted as a salary. Some responses given at the presentation included “I would hope and expect I would get paid fairly for what I can bring to the table,” or “What does the budget look like for this kind of position?”
However, Ewing said if someone absolutely had to give a number, they should give a range. “Give them the bolstering range,” she said.
She reminded participants to also always ask for everything discussed in writing. “I’ve learned my lesson of not doing that,” she admitted.
Lastly, participants were encouraged to practice. “Practice with a friend,” Ewing said.
KSC senior Lindsy Avritch was one of the participants at the event. She said she came because she’s a senior and wanted to understand the art of negotiation better. “I know a little, but I want to understand it better for my profession,” she said.
Avritch also said she didn’t want to get duped by an employer and given less than she deserved. “I think I’m very strong, but there’s still a lot to learn,” she said. She said she had negotiated in the past. “I had one internship without pay, so for my next one, I asked to be paid. I got around $500 a month, which wasn’t a lot, but it was something.”
Avritch said she thinks there’s more work to be done to close the gap, but for living in New England, she feels it’s better than most places. “I think we have lot going for us on the Eastern Coast,” she said.
Speaking on a passionate cause
Ewing said the presentation was for everyone, but mostly geared towards people in minority groups, especially women, but also included people of color as well as people in the LGBTQA community and especially women.
Ewing continued that often women don’t negotiate because they don’t know they can or they’re worried they’ll be seen as aggressive if they try to stand up for themselves. “Being assertive can be seen as not being ‘likeable,’” she said.
She said this presentation is intended to give people to let people know what they can do in a respectful manner to themselves and the company. “Our goal is to educate people on the nuts and bolts: how do you begin the obstructive research, how do you prepare for the pushback,” she explained. “You’ve having a conversation, not a battle.”
She said this presentation is to give people the confidence and know-how needed to negotiate. “There’s a wide range between someone offering you 24 grand and someone else offering you 44 grand,” she said. “You need to know what employers are looking for and how you can provide that.”
KSC senior and co-organizer of the event Sara Myers said there are different websites out there for students to use as research. “Glassdoor is employee reported and salary.com is employer reported. Both can give people an idea of what to expect and ask about,” she said.
Myers said even she was surprised by what she saw. Myers said for herself personally, she was surprised when looking at these websites. “I was a bit blown away because it was better than what I was expecting. I was questioning the validity,” she said. Myers said this was mainly due to working so many other jobs in the past that and it was always different, depending on location and what was required of the job.
Myers also noted that companies that have pay gaps tend to suffer from it. “Studies show that business where people get paid fairly for what they do tend to work better and more efficiently,” she said.
What can be done
According to a 2011 report from economic organization McKinsey and Company,
“Between 1970 and 2009, women went from holding 37 [percent] of all jobs to nearly 48 [percent]. That’s nearly 38 million more women. Without them, our economy would be 25 [percent] smaller today—an amount equal to the combined GDP of Illinois, California and New York.”
Ewing said the the pay gap has been closing. “When I graduated in ‘81, there was a 74 cent difference. Through lawsuits, legislation and different policies, it started to close. It’s starting to stop and plateau,” she said.
However, she said there are obstacles Americans must overcome. “You can’t ask a person’s salary,” she said. Ewing said that really it’s a teamwork effort between the person applying for a job and the company offering a job. The person applying should know what kind of questions to ask and how to respectfully negotiate and the company should be honest about their offering salaries.”
Myers said that a shift is being brought about. “Companies are beginning to implement salary transparent. If everyone’s salaries were open, then other could see and aim for that,” she said.
One thing people can see is the effort made by local businesses. On Equal Pay Day, District Manager of The Works Frank Sousa offered a discount to only female customers. “So all day on Tuesday, we’re doing 21 percent off for all female customers to help shed some light on the inequality that has been found in research.”
He said this topic is an important one to discuss. “It’s important because we want to make sure that people are being treated fairly,” Sousa said. “It’s something that we have looked into in our own internal hires and promotions to make sure that we don’t fall within the norm, we fall beyond the 21 percent where all our female and managers and staffers are getting paid equally the same.”
Sousa said this is the second year they’ve done this event. “…honestly, going into it, we didn’t know what to expect and we had a wonderful turnout.” He said last year it was just in New Hampshire to coincide with the Women’s Coalition. “This year, we’ve decided to expand it to all eight of our locations, even beyond the state of N.H,” he said.
At Keene State, the career and academic offices offer complementary counseling and advice for getting a job and negotiating, as well as other tactics. They are located on the first floor of Elliot.
For The Equinox’s opinion on the matter, read our editorial located on A4.
Dorothy England can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org