Most of the time, we’re pretty even, calm and centred people at Debut HQ. But if we had to choose one thing that gets us riled up like nothing else, it’s a flippin’ pay gap. And oh boy, this one is a real doozy.
New research done by American jobs website Glassdoor has revealed that women are earning an astonishing 11.5% less than men right after they graduate from university.
The study revealed that America men earn a median base salary of $56,957 (£44,409) in the first five years after graduation compared to $50,426 (£39,363) earned by women. That statistic absolutely puts paid to the idea that the gender pay gap only becomes a problem when women reach management positions.
Seriously? Why does this keep happening?
Well, the study suggests that at least half of the gap is down to what’s known as ‘occupational sorting‘. This describes the phenomenon where men tend to cluster into degree subjects that guarantee higher paying graduate jobs more than women.
Whether because they are economically essential or just male-orientated, the skills from these courses tend to reap higher rewards. The fact that women aren’t getting to learn these skills as much feeds into the inequality.
Why is it that women aren’t on these courses? Oftentimes, because they have lost interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects after being discouraged from taking them from a young age. As a result, men outnumber women on almost every STEM course.
Furthermore, nine of the ten highest paying university subjects are dominated by males, whereas six of the ten lowest paying are majority female. If nothing else, that shows that we have to start addressing the issue at an even earlier stage.
What can we do to address the gender pay gap?
Get women into the game earlier
It starts with encouraging more young women to pursue STEM subjects from a school age. Girls need to get tailored information about getting into these industries and be mentored by women who are already there. Introduce these for girls as early as Year 9 and it’ll lead to parity on university courses soon enough.
This is very important. Recently, a law came in which obliged big businesses to disclose how bad the pay gap is within their company. However, this is already being slated for not going far enough.
But there’s plenty we can do while waiting for the government to tighten up. Meredith Bennett-Smith argued that the best way to fight income inequality is to be open about what you make. The culture of salary secrecy allows unscrupulous bosses to get away with paying people less for the same work. So don’t be afraid to have this conversation with your male and female co-workers.
The responsibility isn’t just down to women to fix this ever-present issue. Nor is it down to huge bodies like the government or corporations. We can all do something at an individual level to encourage a culture where everyone can thrive. It may take us a generation, but we can make the gender pay gap a thing of the past.