By Robin Madell, Contributor

US News, April 16, 2018 —

The gender pay gap still exists – here’s what to do to help close it.

With Equal Pay Day happening last week, let’s take a look at some of the latest findings on the gender pay gap. This 2018 research reveals why it’s so important for women to take a strategic approach to negotiating their salary.

Disappointing Findings

A new report from employment site Hired Inc. called The State of Wage Inequality in the Workplace confirmed that, unfortunately, the pay gap is still alive and well in the United States. According to the report, nearly two-thirds of the time (63 percent), men are being offered higher salaries than women for performing the same role in the same company. In some organizations, women received pay offers that were dramatically lower than their male counterparts – up to 45 percent less. These figures essentially match the numbers that Hired announced in last year’s survey, showing little-to-no progress in closing the wage gap.

While the Hired study hones in mainly on positions in the technology industry, they did some comparative research as well to examine the situation in different sectors. They found that inequities between men’s and women’s pay persist across diverse industries, including finance and health care. The largest pay gap appeared in education technology. What’s more, race also had a major impact on pay disparities, with black and Hispanic women earning 90 cents for each dollar earned by white men. Hired additionally found that as women age, the wage gap expands.

PayScale also released a new study on The State of the Gender Pay Gap 2018. The findings were grim here as well. According to PayScale, today women earn 77.9 cents for every dollar that men earn. Another way of putting this is that, in 2018, women’s median salary is still around 22 percent lower than men’s. Another significant point that PayScale’s study revealed is that by the middle of their career, men become much more likely (70 percent) to have moved into an executive role compared with women. This situation worsens over time, with nearly 59 percent of women still working in individual contributor positions by their late career, compared with just 43 percent of men. This discrepancy is often referred to as the “opportunity gap.”

After researching market value for the job you’re interested in, ask for the high side of the salary range, with the expectation the employer will meet you halfway. (sturti/Getty Images)

Taking Action

What can be done to close the gender pay gap as well as the opportunity gap? While 42 percent of the respondents to the Hired survey believe that the effort must be collaborative between companies, the government and employees, the research points at something that women specifically can do. “According to our data, 66 percent of the time, women are asking for less money – 6 percent less on average – than men for the same role at the same company,” says Kelli Dragovich, senior vice president, people, at Hired. “We want women to feel empowered to ask for their market worth and we believe salary transparency will get us there.” With this in mind, Dragovich offers the following negotiation recommendations for women:

  • Aim high. Dragovich suggests that women not only rely on existing data, like Hired’s State of Salaries Report, to determine what other workers in their market with the same experience and skill set are earning, but that women also avoid starting out salary negotiations too low. “After you look at the data, ask for the high side of your expected salary range,” explains Dragovich. “Many employers will meet you halfway, so if you start on the low side you may end up disappointed.”
  • Never use your current salary as a starting point. Some other advice that Dragovich offers is to avoid beginning pay negotiations based on how much you’re making now. “Using past earnings to inform salary decisions only perpetuates the wage gap,” says Dragovich. “This is one of the most common mistakes that I see candidates make.” Helping with this mission is the fact that just this month, a federal court ruled that employers now can’t legally pay women less than they pay men simply because women made less at a prior job.
  • Ask about the compensation philosophy. Don’t just fold your cards if you aren’t offered pay that you think is fair. Dragovich advises asking questions to get to the bottom of what’s behind a suggested pay range: “If you’re unhappy with what a company is offering, ask how the company arrived at the proposed salary and the benchmarks that are being considered for your level and skill sets.”

Legislative action and corporate initiative are both certainly key to overcoming the gender pay gap. But rather than waiting for slow-moving change to catch up with the growing outcry for workplace fairness, women can make a difference in their “personal pay gap” by implementing savvy negotiating strategies – while at the same time moving everyone closer to true wage equity.