Diversity Woman Magazine

SPR 2015

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m S p r i n g 2 0 1 5 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 29 Deconstructing the Gender Pay Gap Why aren't women making the same money as men in 2015? Take the Lead By Katie Morell D eep in conversation with a new co-worker, Kathy Johnson* suddenly found herself struggling to breathe. Ten the corporate director of marketing for a Fortune 500 company, she'd walked into the ofce of an indirect subordinate to welcome him into the company. Te conversation started of casually, revolving around each other's backgrounds and the bene- fts of working for the business. Ten, he dropped a bomb. "He said, 'Yeah, the compensation is awesome. It is amazing to be making this much,'" remembers Johnson. "Te fgure he told me was $20,000 per year more than I was making. I couldn't believe it." She cut the conversation short, nearly ran back to her ofce, and then shut the door. Her mind raced with how to deal with such a massive discrepancy. Had her company overtly discriminated against her because she is a woman, or was this an oversight? Had he negotiated more than she had? Was there something wrong with her? A historical perspective Johnson's experience is not uncommon. On a national level, full-time female workers were paid 78 cents on the dollar in 2013, compared with men who worked the same number of hours, leaving a wage gap of nearly 22 percent. Accord- ing to the US Census Bureau, the median annual income for women in 2013 was $39,157 compared with men, who made around $50,033. Progress on the gender wage front has been startlingly slow, considering how long it has been a major topic in policy circles. One of the frst times the issue came to light was in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy signed into law the Equal Pay Act that, in his words, "prohibits arbitrary dis- crimination against women in the payment of wages. Tis act represents many years of efort … to call attention to the unconscionable practice of paying female employees less wages than male employees for the same job." Back then, women working full-time made only 59 cents for every dollar earned by men, resulting in a wage gap of 41 percent, according to the National Women's Law Center. "Tere would be ads in the paper for men and ads for women; it was that segregated," says Evelyn Murphy, president of the WAGE Project, an activist organization working to end wage discrimination. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, designed to make it easier for women to fle complaints against dis- criminatory employers. But the gap re- mains. Te Institute for Women's Policy Research estimates that if the United We Mean Business > * Name changed for privacy at the request of the source. THINKSTOCKPHOTOS

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