What is The Gender Pay Gap?

How can men help reduce it?

Feminism is defined as the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. This means ensuring equal treatment for both men and women. It sounds simple. But in reality, it isn’t. One of the focuses of the feminist movement was pushing for reform on equal pay. Now, as a man, this is an issue I will not experience in my lifetime. But just because an issue doesn’t impact me doesn’t mean that its effects are not felt by other people.

The gender pay must be reduced if we ever hope to achieve parity. Image source: The Guardian

As I began my research, a lot of the information I found was complex and difficult to understand as a student, as it contained technical information that a student would find difficult to comprehend. Moreover, the actions suggested to reduce the gender pay gap were mostly geared towards firms. Though it didn’t affect me directly, I knew I had a responsibility to do my part to help close this gap. This prompted the question: what can I do as a man to help close the gender gap?

I didn’t really know where to start. I didn’t want to just throw together a piece based off of things I had read. Then I got an idea. I reached out to Tanvi, a banking and capital markets senior associate at one of the Big Four. As someone that is passionate about social issues and uses her platform on social media to raise awareness about them, I knew she would be the perfect person to help explain the issue as well as share her own experiences and thoughts related to it.

The 4 largest professional services networks in the world are often referred to as the “Big Four”. Image source: CNN

You may ask what I’m hoping to achieve by writing this and I understand that I alone cannot fix this problem. But even if I can get one or two people to read this and become involved in the issue, then that is a start.

What is the gender pay gap?

Simply put, the gender pay gap is the difference between the median salary for women and men. There are 2 types of gender pay gaps: the uncontrolled and controlled gender pay gap. The controlled gender pay gap measures the difference in median salary for men and women with the same job and qualifications whilst the uncontrolled gender pay gap simply looks at the difference between median salaries for men and women overall.

What is the gender pay gap currently?

In 2020, the uncontrolled gender pay gap is 81 cents. This means that for every dollar that a man makes, the median salary for men is roughly 19 percent higher than the median salary for women. Now when we look at the controlled pay gap, women earn 98 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

The gender pay gap over the past 5 years. Image source: PayScale

So what?

Now you may think this is insignificant. The difference is only 2 cents, right? The gender pay gap is more significant than you think. If we look at the earnings lost over a 40-year working career, the results are shocking.

For example, let’s say that a woman starts working at 22 and retires at 62. The median pay for men in 2020 was $61,700 compared to the controlled median pay for women of $60,700. Applying a 3 percent base pay increase each year (as research has shown is the general trend), shows a difference of about $90,000 over a 40-year working career.

So, what does this mean? Simply put, a woman with an equal job title and qualifications to that of a man making the median salary mentioned above, still makes less than a man over a 40-year working career and would have to work over a year longer to make the same amount.

What about women of colour?

The largest uncontrolled pay gap is for Indigenous women, black or African American women, and Hispanic women who earn $0.75 for every dollar a white man earns. Asian women earn $0.95 for every dollar a white man earns (uncontrolled), which indicates an improvement by $0.02 from 2019.

What can men do to help close the gender pay gap?

I could go on and on about what research shows. I hope by now you understand just how big of a problem the gender pay gap is. As a man, it becomes difficult to understand our role in helping reduce the gap if we don’t know what actions we can take. After speaking to Tanvi, here are some of the ways I think we can help.

1. Become Aware and Raise Awareness of the Gap

This piece was meant to provide an understanding of the gender pay gap and the implications it has on women. By no means, is this an exhaustive list of all the information available. By now, hopefully you better understand what the gender pay gap is. This is a start. Increase your awareness of the gap. Do more research, read more surrounding this issue and become more knowledgeable about it. It doesn’t matter if it’s your classmates, co-workers or boss, raise awareness of the issue. The more people that know and commit to making a change, the faster we’ll be able to reduce the gap.

2. Stop Interrupting

According to an analysis of Supreme Court arguments over a dozen years, the three female justices were interrupted three times more frequently than their male counterparts. If this is happening at the highest court in the federal judiciary in America, then it is most definitely happening in the workplace. Make sure women are able to voice their thoughts and opinions without interruption.

3. Amplify Women’s Voices & Boast Their Accomplishments

When speaking to Tanvi about advice she would give to the female leaders of the future, she gave some really good advice. “Back yourself and celebrate your achievements” she said. Now it may seem like common sense, so I asked her what she meant. According to her, men at the Big 4 are good at boasting about their success (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing), whereas women don’t as much. Research shows that this is indeed the case. However, boasting successes and communicating worth is a critical factor in being hired, promoted and getting better raises and bonuses. Start celebrating a woman’s successes. Congratulate and encourage them as you would want someone to do to you. Though this doesn’t seem like much, it may help increase their confidence and encourage them to start celebrating their victories more.

4. Show Respect

Throughout our interview, Tanvi gave me a really in-depth view of what it was like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry. One of the experiences we talked about was her time working in the banking industry. Though she said that she didn’t experience any significant discrimination, she explained that there were instances where as a female, she was not taken as seriously as her male counterparts. This type of reaction towards women in the workplace creates the foundation for future problems and is a contributing factor towards the gender pay gap. The solution? It’s simple. Treat a woman with the same respect you would treat a man. Research suggests that men get more respect than women, even if they hold the exact same position. Do your part. Treat your female coworkers with respect. And if you see disrespect in the workplace, call it out. Doing so will begin to help fix the inequalities between men and women.

So, what now?

As mentioned throughout the piece, I understand that this alone isn’t going to fix the gender pay gap. However, as men, taking the actions above is a good start. You might be thinking, “I’m not in the workforce, therefore these actions don’t apply to me”. That’s where you’re wrong. You don’t need to be in the workforce to implement them. They can start in the classroom and at home. Raise awareness of the gender pay gap amongst other students, educate them and encourage them to do their own research. Stop females from being interrupted in the classroom or in your household and celebrate their achievements and successes with them. Most importantly, show them respect. If we ever hope to achieve equality between men and women, we must start treating them equally.

The students of today are the leaders of tomorrow. We have the ability to be the change we wish to see in the future. Together, we can work to reduce the gender pay gap in hope of achieving gender equality.