My niece just had a baby and is worried about being paid less than her male peers. She is an engineer with solid work experience on her resume, and she intends to return to work full time. She wants answers from me about how to avoid becoming a victim of the gender wage gap.
Unfortunately, new research reported by Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times reinforces that, as a new mother in her late twenties with a college degree and a professional career, she is poised to become a wage gap statistic. I don’t know what to tell her about how to avoid this. Because most companies keep salary data secret, she will probably only be able to suspect unfair treatment but will not be able to prove it. The odds, and statistics, are stacked against her.
A new study by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey finds little progress in advancement for women in the largest companies. This study of 132 companies employing 4.6 million people includes a review of the pipeline data of the companies, a survey of HR practices, and surveys of 34,000 employees about attitudes on gender, job satisfaction, ambition, and work-life issues.
Key Findings: The Current State
First, let’s take a look at key findings from the study:
- Women remain underrepresented at every level. For every 100 women promoted to manager, 130 men are promoted. This disparity begins early and grows larger with only 20 percent of SVP roles held by women, which results in very few women in line to become CEO.
Two recent stories about efforts to achieve gender equity provide encouragement about what’s possible and some useful lessons about how to get there. Here are the two cases, one from science and the other from technology.
Women have been underrepresented as speakers and presenters at scholarly meetings for many years, but one group, the American Society for Microbiology, found a way to achieve gender parity in three short years. Between 2012 and 2015, the percentage of presentations by female scholars went from 25.9 percent to 48.5 percent—almost parity.
Why is it important that women scientists have equal visibility at professional meetings?