We are all very familiar with the fact that women make less than men do. As women, the fight for progress and equality in the workplace is a daily occurrence. So the recent study by Payscale on the gender pay gap reporting that women make on average 76 cents to the dollar of men is not surprising to any of us. This may seem like an unsurmountable statistic in our lifetime, but if you dig in further, there are some key insights worth addressing that are actionable today.
Why the pay gap exists
If you take the average of all women vs. the average of all men, women make 76 cents to the dollar of the average man. The gap is obvious given that men dominate the executive ranks and our boardrooms. Job titles and seniority have a direct correlation to salaries. And since women aren’t holding as many senior roles in corporations as men do, that explains a large part of the gap. In addition, men hold the majority of jobs in some of the highest paying fields (e.g. STEM). Therefore, it’s pretty clear why the average women makes less than the average man.
Women are being paid less than men for doing the same job, but not as much as we think
According to the study, when women are in the same roles and have the same background and education, women are making about 98 cents to the dollar of men. So yes, the disparity is about 2 cents on average. It’s not as large as we think. We’ve improved this figure greatly through the years and we are continuing to close this gap through some of the amazing efforts out there, but there is still more work to do. There are still biases and prejudices that happen daily.
The widening of the gender pay gap starts at 25 years old
The payscale research is extremely valuable because it tells us that while men and women might start off as equals in the workforce after college, as they move along in their careers, they progress into senior roles at different rates. This is a key driver in the gender pay gap. Since the gap only get’s larger as women get older.
The study shows the gap begins around 25 years old, when most people start experiencing their first opportunity to move up and get promoted.
The gap between men and women just gets larger and larger after that, by mid-career, “Men are 85% more likely than women to be VP’s or C-Suite Execs and 171% more likely to hold those positions late in their career”. These results are echoed in the recent Women in the Workplace study conducted by McKinsey & Lean In.
There are three actionable ways to help close this gap
Getting more women into STEM roles:
The industries with the largest pay gap are in STEM related industries. Even before entering the workforce, in high school and in college, we can create awareness and education around STEM roles. According to the NGC (National Girls Collaborative Project), while women make up 50 percent of the college educated workforce, they only represent 29 percent of the STEM workforce.
According to the Smithsonian Science Education Center, between 2000–2010, STEM related jobs grew 3 times the rate of non-STEM jobs. It is projected that by 2018, 2.4 million STEM jobs will go unfilled. In addition STEM salaries on average are 25 percent higher than non-STEM salaries.
Addressing Ambition & Confidence:
This research confirms a lot of what I see with young women in the workforce. According to a recent Bain study, women enter the workforce with higher ambitions than men, but after two years in the workforce (experience employee in the chart below), their ambition plummets 60 percent, while men’s ambitions stay the same, and only grows thereafter.
This tells us that something is happening in the workplace for women during this early years. Both the Women in the Workplace and the Bain study attribute the corporation’s role as critical in creating a workplace that can better encourage and support a woman’s ambition.
In addition, a Wall Street Journal article sheds light on female professional ambitions and the desire to attract a mate. The article is based on a recent Harvard study, called “Acting Wife: Marriage Market Incentives and Labor Market Investments”. The report is based on two field experiments in an elite MBA program. Results show that single women play down their ambitions when their is a presence of men, because of their desire to attract a mate. Some of the most young and ambitious women in the United States feel like they need to sacrifice their ambition because they feel that makes them less desirable in the marriage market. This is not the case for men.
Lastly, we cannot talk about the gender pay gap without addressing race. According to a recent Pew research study on Views of Race and Inequality, Black and Hispanic women earn significantly less than Asian and White women. Our investment in this area is critical to the success of all women. It is projected that by 2050, Hispanic and Latino women will make up nearly 39% of the total female population.
The Opportunity for Employers to Create Opportunities for all Women:
I have worked with and hired many bright and talented women early in their career. I have found that this is the most critical time in their careers as well. If they don’t receive the proper encouragement, management, and mentorship there is high likelihood that their ambitions and confidence will decrease dramatically. In order to even the playing field, here are my takeaways and suggestions:
Encourage, mentor and promote young women. This sounds very straightforward but hard in practice. We need to train our middle management teams, they are on the frontline here.
Create programs that support minority women in the workplace. When you invest in diversity, we all win.
Teach women to better negotiate promotions and salaries. Women aren’t confident asking for what they want, but this can be a learned skill.
Provide women the opportunity to take leadership roles on projects, letting them own something provides them the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities, create visibility for themselves, learn and develop new skills, generate confidence and also be considered for promotions.
Understanding a woman’s desire to progress up the corporate ladder. This may not always be clear once a woman starts her career, but if we better understand what her greatest strengths are, we can help show her paths towards success.
Creating an open discussion around childbirth and maternity leave and returning to workplace. Companies are ongoing a huge change right now to address issues related to mothers in the workplace. Companies need to address and understand the concerns of maternity leave for women and create programs in place that could allow working moms to succeed.
I have always been in love with all things art- I was obsessed with drawing and painting before I was even walking. In high school, I started a career selling art through various gallery art shows and on Etsy. I then went on to study fine arts at the University of Southern California, with an emphasis in painting, but took classes in ceramics, printmaking, cinema and architecture to get a really well-rounded education on all sorts of art.
During my senior year of college, my career path went through a huge transition; I started my own temporary tattoo brand, INKED by Dani, which is a brand of temporary tattoos based on my hand-drawn fine art designs.
The idea for the brand came one night after a themed party at college. My friends, knowing how much I loved drawing, asked me to cover them in hand-drawn doodles using eyeliner. The feedback from that night was overwhelming, everyone my friends saw that night was obsessed with the designs. In that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head... I could do some completely unique here and create chic temporary tattoos with an art-driven aesthetic, unlike anything else on the market. Other temporary tattoo brands were targeted to kids or lacked a sleek and millennial-driven look. It was a perfect pivot; I could utilize my fine arts training and tattoos as a new art medium to create a completely innovative brand.
Using the money I made from selling my artwork throughout high school and college, I funded the launch of INKED by Dani. I had always loved the look of dainty tattoos, but knew I could never commit to the real thing, and I knew my parents would kill me if I got a tattoo (I also knew that so many girls must have that same conflict). Starting INKED by Dani was a no-brainer.
I started off with a collection of about only 10 designs and sold them at sorority houses around USC. Our unique concept for on-trend and fashion-forward tattoos was spreading through word of mouth, and we quickly started growing an Instagram following. I was hustling all day from my room, cold calling retailers, sending blind samples and tons of emails, and trying to open up as many opportunities as I could.
Now, we're sold at over 10,000 retail locations (retailers include Target, Walmart, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Hot Topic), and we've transformed temporary tattoos into a whole new form of wearable art.
My 4 best tips for starting your own business are:
- Just go with your gut! You'll never know what works until you try it. Go day by day and do everything in your power to work toward your goals. Be bold, but be sure to be thoughtful in your actions.
- Research your competitors and other successful brands in your category to determine how you can make your product stand out. Figure out where there is a need or hole in the market that your new offering or approach can fill.
- Don't spread yourself too thin. Delegate where possible, and stay focused each day on doing the best and most you can. Don't get too caught up in your end goal or the big picture to a point where it overwhelms or freezes you. You're already making a bold move to start something new, so try to prioritize what's important! I started off in the beginning hand packing every single tattoo pack that we sold and shipped. If I wanted to scale to align with the level of demand we were receiving, I needed to make the pivot to mass produce and relinquish the control of doing every step myself. I am a total perfectionist, so that was definitely hard! From that point on, overseeing production has been a huge part of my daily schedule, but by doing so I've been able to free up more time to focus on design, merchandising, and sales, allowing me to really focus on growing the business.
- Prioritize great product packaging and branding. It's so important to invest time in customer experience- how customers view and interact with your product. The packaging is just as important as the actual product inside! When we were starting off, we had high demand, and I definitely jumped the gun a bit on packaging so we could deliver product to the retailers when they wanted it. Since then, we've completely revamped the packaging into something upscale and unique that reflects what the brand is all about. Our product packaging is always called out as being one of our retailers' and customers' favorite part of our product!