This story is part of Fast Company‘s Gender Pay Gap package “Short Changed.” In honor of Equal Pay Day, the symbolic day of the year when women’s pay has finally matched the previous year’s pay for men, we are exploring elements of pay inequality though the personal stories of women across industries and career stages. Click here to read the whole series.
Today is Equal Pay Day, a date that marks how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Right now, white women earn around 80 cents for every dollar earned by white men; for which black women earn only around 61 cents, Asian women earn 86 cents, and Latinas make only 53 cents.
There is a belief that women are paid less in large part because we simply don’t negotiate. But many women do negotiate. In fact, Fast Company recently conducted a survey of women about the gender pay gap, and out of over 100 readers, 75% of the women said that they had negotiated either their starting salary, a raise, or both.
So if women are negotiating, why are we still making less than men? Another common belief is that women simply choose lower-paying fields. Yet the research doesn’t back this up, either. In fact, when men enter traditionally women-dominated fields, they are often offered higher salaries, For example, male nurses earn about $5,100 more a year than female counterparts who hold similar positions. And this happens across industries. In our survey, 52% of women said that they have found out that a man in their same role or a lower role at their workplace makes more money.
The bottom line is that the gender pay gap is a complicated—it’s wrapped up in generations of bias and it’s impossible to explain away or fix with one simple cause or solution. Which is why this week we are taking a closer look at the issue though a series of personal stories from the women who have experienced it. Read the whole series here.
And before you think that your company is the outlier without a pay gap problem, consider this: In our survey only 17% of respondents said that they felt that there wasn’t a pay gap at their company.
For the other 83%, it looks like we have some work to do.