CommunityLet’s Talk: Gender Inequity and the Wage Gap

Michelle Zohlman
writes on February 4, 2021

Welcome to the “Let’s Talk” series, where we’ll break down and discuss aspects of inequities in tech (and life), so we can check our privilege, learn, and change systems. 

Gender Inequity and the Wage Gap

Gender inequity exists in our lives, and in the tech industry, in a multitude of ways. You’ve probably heard the gender wage gap discussed in many contexts, as it doesn’t only exist in the tech field. Wage gaps exist in healthcare, educators, and film, to name a few. 

Maybe you have heard it referred to as pay equity, pay disparities, gender pay, unequal pay, etc. They’re all terms referring to the same problem: overall, men are paid more than women for the same jobs.

This statement can tend to offend folx. They think it means that men are being paid too much. Heck no! It means that women should be paid the same amount for the same role. In even simpler terms, pay everyone the same salary/wage for the same job. Someone should not be paid differently because of their gender

About Gender Inequality

Before we jump into the wage gap, it’s crucial for us all to be on the same page and understand that gender inequality exists. The wage gap is one of the ways it shows up. One of my favorite ways to examine gender equality with folx is to watch the Why Gender Equality is Good for Everyone – Men Included video from Michael Kimmel. (This is a piece of homework for employees at Treehouse in our Intro to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) training.)

Watch the video linked above (or read the transcript), and I’ll break down a few parts below. 

In the video, Michael Kimmel says, “All women face oppression.” Have you considered this? How might this show up in tech? Well, one way is through the wage gap. All womxn experience it, but the degree varies depending on their race/ethnicity. Check out the figure below to understand this a bit better. 

(Quick Facts About the Gender Wage Gap)

The above graphic shows us the amount a White, Black, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, American Indian, and Alaska Native woman makes for every dollar a white man earns.

Gender Inequity Worldwide

The World Economic Forum (WEF) released its annual Global Gender Gap Report 2020, which shows the wage gap breakdown across countries. You’ll see that some countries are doing good work to close the gap, while others have plenty more work ahead of them. Overall, there is still a well-defined gap. Check out the report to learn more about how the wage gap looks in your country.

Additionally, results from this report showed that “women overall may have to wait 250 years to achieve economic (relating to pay, advancement, etc.) parity.”(#EqualPay: The gender gap in the tech industry) Let that sink in a bit. WEF shared the gap is SO LARGE that it will take 250 years, meaning generations, to close the gap. 

The Gender Wage Gap in Tech

The data we’ve shared so far is looking at a variety of jobs across different industries. Let’s zoom in a bit and look at the tech industry in the United States. 

(By The Numbers: What Pay Inequality Looks Like For Women In Tech)

The gender (and race) wage gap exists in the tech industry. This doesn’t hold true for all tech companies, but for the industry as a whole. That’s why it is each company’s responsibility to commit to pay equity. 

Unfortunately, a lot of the wage gap data we’re reviewing examines men and women only. It does not consider the diversity of gender and how it is fluid (to learn more about gender, check out Intro to Gender & Sexuality).

Takeaways: The Gender Wage Gap

If you find yourself struggling to see the challenge, I encourage you to reflect on your own privilege.

For those of you that want to be part of a solution, ask your companies (that you currently work at or will interview with) how they’re ensuring gender equity at the company. That will tell you whether they’re working on it and how important it is to them.

We all must work together to find additional solutions to the gap. Check out Vox’s video What People Miss About the Gender Wage Gap, which is filled with information on how we can take action to close the gap in big and small ways. 

Now that you watched the video, a lot of this makes sense, right? Specifically, it highlights how flexibility in a position plays a role in the gap. By a company offering flexible hours, womxn are more likely to be able to keep their jobs, grow their careers, and succeed. I encourage you to think on that a bit and consider ways you can make changes.  Or, if you’re someone experiencing the negative effects of the wage gap, hopefully these resources can help you advocate for yourself. 

Recommended Reading about Gender Inequality

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