Women think they earn less than their male co-workers — and they’re right

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Do your co-workers earn more money than you?

How you answer probably depends on your gender. And the accuracy of that answer also depends on your gender.

In a recent CareerBuilder survey, employers asked workers if they thought their colleagues of the opposite sex earned more or less than them and how they viewed their opportunities for advancement.

From the women’s perspective:

-38 percent feel they earn less than their male counterparts
-39 percent believe men have more opportunities to advance their career
-36 percent believe men receive more recognition for accomplishments
-35 percent believe their decision not to rub elbows with upper management (while the men are doing it) is the reason for the pay and advancement disparity
-22 percent cited favoritism toward men as the reason for the income and advancement differences

From the men’s perspective:
-84 percent believe males and females with the same qualifications are paid the same
-72 percent believe opportunities for advancement are the same for both genders
-6 percent believe they are paid less than their female counterparts
-17 percent believe women have more opportunities for advancement
-18 percent say women receive more kudos for accomplishment

Salary reality
You might look at those survey results and think it’s a case of the grass being greener on the other side, but in this case that’s not so. If you’re a female in the workplace, the paycheck is significantly greener on the other side of the cubicle wall. The survey finds that income disparity between the genders is a very real issue:

Of surveyed female workers:
-40 percent earn $35,000 or less
-25 percent earn $50,000 or more
-3 percent earn $100,000 or more
-21 percent hold a management position
-49 percent hold a clinical or administrative position

Of surveyed male workers:
-24 percent earn $35,000 or less
-45 percent earn $50,000 or more
-10 percent earn $100,000 or more
-20 percent hold a management position
-25 percent are in a clinical or administrative role

President Obama released a statement on Women’s History Month, celebrated throughout March, in which he explained the many ways gender inequality needs to be addressed. And the professional disparity is complicated and can’t be fixed in one quick action.

For example, in a recent post on interview questions, many women — far more than we could include in the story — experienced hiring managers illegally asking about their children or plans to have children. The typical reason is that some employers are hesitant to hire a women who could take maternity leave or who need to take the occasional day off to handle family issues. It’s not hard to see that this is one way women can be held back professionally. And yet, in another article, working mothers explained that, even if they are part of a household with two working parents, they are expected to handle the child-care duties. Some explained that their husbands earn more, and that’s why they are the ones to miss work more often. Again, this move could hinder their professional advancement, and yet it could be one of the very reasons their husbands earn more. So it’s a circular issue, and only one of many that women face in the workplace, including old-fashioned favoritism.

Tell us if this news surprises you or if it’s exactly what you’d expect. Are you sitting there thinking, “Sounds about right?” Are you one of the 84 percent of men who don’t think there’s a disparity?

9 Comments
  1. I remember a teacher of physiology that also worked as an anesthesiologist saying that the hospital was not wanting to hire more female anesthesiologists using as argument the maternity leaves period. She said then she pointed out that men doctors in the team had longer licenses due to health issues than the female doctors due to maternity leaves. She said that after that they ended up hiring some more women. But that demonstrates the narrow and stereotypical thinking of employers.

  2. Judging by the numbers here it would seem that if you removed the outliers (those making over $100K which would indicate a very high position, the CEO, his son and nephew) the pay-for-position would appear much more equal. In other words, the large difference is accounted for by very few actual numbers, not in the rank-and-file workers.

    • Your post does not make a lot of sense. Many people make more than $100k who are not CEOs, such as the many people who are my peers. Maybe you mistook it for $1m which is more common than $100k for CEOs. Your math is off when looking at the outliers too. 40% of women earned $35k or less and 24% of men earned $35k or less. I suppose you think that’s a 16% difference. Even if that were correct that is still very material.

  3. This story is interesting when paralleled with the class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart. My input may start a debate, but here it goes… It was very interesting to note that only 30 percent (this is an estimate) of Wal-Mart managers are women. That means that 70 percent are men. When I also note that the opposite is true to the non managerial workforce of Wal-Mart(70 percent women, 30 percent men, it makes me scratch my head. It seems that they are allowing more women to stay at a lower pay than men, and they are eager to advance men into higher paying managerial roles. You cant tell me that women are not applying for managerial positions at Wal-Mart. There are plenty of women that I know that have been working at Wal-Mart than the men that are promoted. One lady worked there for 10 years and had applied for managerial positions for years – but a man who worked there for only six months got promoted instead. This lady got “worker of the week” many times- but only a pat on the back as recognition. Does this seem fair? I think not.

  4. Sorry for the typo – I meant to write that there are plenty of women that have been working at Wal-Mart longer than the men that are promoted.

  5. If I didn’t get promoted I’d look for a job at a different company that would give me the chance to be promoted. Is it possible that the female employees at WalMart don’t do this for some reason?

    • @duong. That’s bull and you know it. Dont be a chauvinist. Its a matter of ignorance and inequality, not intelligence.

  6. Women are not being promoted because of sexism and outdated attitudes in the workplace. I was not paid what I was worth at my previous position even though I did a lot work there. Men still hold outdated attitudes about women and it carries over into the workplace. Also, if you are taking care of kids or elderly parents, you can’t just pick up and leave-you need the job. That’s probably why a lot of the women in the Wal-Mart case stayed.

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