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Why Men Should Care About Equal Pay Day

Topics: Current Events
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Fellas, by now it’s old news that there exists a gender pay gap between men and women; the statistics prove it.

I can already hear you saying, “People can come up with statistics to prove anything.” (FYI, that’s a quote attributed to Homer Simpson.)

Yes, there are different ways to look at the gender pay gap data. But the truth is, any way you slice it, women make less than men.

In a report we published last year, when we examined the “controlled” gender pay gap—in which we compare women and men working the same jobs—we found women make roughly 98 percent of what men make.

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“Two percent? Not enough to prove systemic sexism!”

Yeah, yeah. But look at the “uncontrolled” gap, which compares men to women regardless of job type. When we use this data set, we found women make roughly 76 percent of what men make. Why? The uncontrolled gender pay gap spotlights the fact that women are less likely to hold high-level, high-paying jobs than men. And that fact—often called “the opportunity gap”—does reveal the existence of sexism and discrimination in the workplace.

“Well, I’m a man, so even though the gender pay gap exists, why should I care?”

Good question. And here’s the answer.

Fairness Is a Hardwired Human Emotion

Last year we surveyed 1.8 million American workers for our report, in which we analyzed the gender pay and opportunity gaps, and how workers felt about perceived gaps at their place of work. Part of our survey examined whether employees—both men and women—thought that their employers were taking steps to address the gender pay gap and make male and female salaries—and opportunities for promotion—more equitable. Overall, about 17 percent of men said they believed there was a gender inequity issue and their employer is proactively addressing it. (Interestingly, roughly 10 percent of women felt the same.)

When workers feel there’s an inequity at their company, it’s bad for morale and employee engagement. Numerous studies have shown that “fairness is a hardwired emotion.” In fact, according to a 2008 study performed at the California Institute of Technology, human beings “overwhelmingly” display an intolerance of inequity.

Employees Will Quit If They Perceive Inequity

What’s the ultimate result of employees’ perception of inequity at their place of work? Significantly increased turnover. Our research has shown that if employees believe their employer is taking no action to address gender inequity, 71 percent of women and 74 percent of men plan to find a new job within six months.

According to a 2012 Center for American Progress report, every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it can cost the company twice that employee’s annual salary due to the expenses involved with hiring and on-boarding a replacement. Additionally, as has been well documented, increased turnover erodes company morale.

Promoting Gender Equity Is the Right Thing to Do

Guys, we all have women we care about in our life: moms, wives, sisters, daughters, cousins, aunts, friends…. Do the women in our life deserve a smaller salary than men for doing the same work? Should their opportunities be limited simply because they’re women? The answer here is, of course, no.

I’ve known and worked with dozens, perhaps hundreds of women who are as capable, smart and hard-working as I am, and many who are much more so. Many of the best managers and businesspeople I’ve worked for over the course of my career have been women. All of them were and are terrific assets to their employers. And all of them deserve the same opportunity and compensation enjoyed by men.

Particularly in the United States and other democracies, it should be understood that human rights are inalienable, universal and egalitarian. If women don’t have the same opportunities as men simply because of their gender, we’re missing the mark.

What Can Men Do to Help Close the Gender Pay Gap?

Men can be instrumental in closing the gender pay and opportunity gaps. If you’re an employee and you notice inequity at your place of work, speak up. Become an advocate for equity. Become a mentor to a junior female colleague. Alert your employer to the financial risk associated with a gender pay and opportunity gap problem, and suggest solutions.

If you’re an employer, as suggested in our report from last year, create a college recruitment program focused on attracting female candidates, or a mentoring program for junior-level female employees. Hire a diversity manager or create a diversity task force. And publicly hold your company accountable by releasing gender equity reports online, a technique that’s been adopted by a number of high-performing and well-known businesses.

If you’re looking for more information on these ideas and other solutions, attend PayScale’s Equal Pay Day event, Gap Analysis: What Equal Pay Day Gets Wrong, being held at PayScale HQ in Seattle on April 4. If you can’t make it, don’t worry; we’ll be live-streaming the panel discussion on Facebook Live and publishing a recap online.

Learn more about the event here, and come back to on April 4 to see our 2017 report on the gender pay and opportunity gaps.

We hope you’ll leave inspired.

Tell Us What You Think

Are you a man who’s witnessed gender inequity at work? Did you take action to correct it? If so, what action did you take? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

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I had a quick look at your link to the stats to prove this. It differentiates between the raw pay gap and the controlled pay gap. So I must ask why are the article seems to focus on the raw gap as evidence of discrimination? Can you explain how the raw gap is demonstrative of discrimination against women? The controlled gap is 2% (which while still being a difference) is a far cry from the 24% that the article seems… Read more »


Sorry for posting here same questions i posted on “Equal Pay Day Gender Equity Panel”, i believe this is a better place for them:
1. Is this a real issue in the private sector?
2. What is the logic of paying a man, more than a woman for the same work (particularly in a capitalistic economy)?
3. In what kind of places do people receive “standard” salary (nonnegotiable)?

Thank you


BS. The harder one physically works the less one gets paid. How many roofers, landscapers, construction workers, ditch diggers, etc. are women? How many office assistants and paper pushers are men? Because of the largely divergent career paths embraced by or required of each sex, comparisons of pay are misleading. Ridiculous attempts at social engineering will ultimately fail before first getting unnecessary amounts of workers riled up and jealous. Most people, I’ve heard, work for small businesses, and they don’t… Read more »

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