I found this interesting interactive graphic (via the Sociological Images blog) at the New York Times. It allows you to take a look at pay inequality by gender, slicing and dicing a range of occupations to see where women are most underpaid relative to their male colleagues. If you click around the graphic, there are some notes accompanying a handful of professions that aim to explain the gap.
The reasons for the paycheque gap was one of the topics we discussed in my Negotiation Theory and Practice course last week. Why in a negotiation course? I think negotiation matters for two reasons.
First, negotiation matters because, as Linda Babcock and Sara Lashever say, “women don’t ask”: They negotiate less often and they view more situations as non-negotiable. Babcock, Gelfand, Small and Stayn (2006) asked men and women, “when was the last negotiation you initiated?” They found that men tended to have negotiated far more recently than women. This is hugely consequential when it comes to pay: The lifetime earnings gap between someone who negotiates their first salary and someone who simply takes the first offer is in excess of a million dollars.
Secondly, even when women do consider employment terms as negotiable, they have different fundamental beliefs about what can be demanded. Barron (2006) found that women are far more likely to endorse the view that you have to prove your worth on the job. Men, by contrast, are willing to haggle for above-average wages before they set foot on the shop floor. Differing perceptions about the appropriateness of demands in negotiation can lead to dramatically different outcomes — and these differences may contribute to the gender disparity in wages.