Gender wage gap starts at graduation by fdjerue7eeu


									Gender wage gap starts at graduation
Women fall behind in the pay race well before they begin
child-rearing years

WASHINGTON – For years, women have outnumbered men on college campuses.
Overall, they get better grades than men. And yet, just months after they toss their
mortarboards into the air at college graduation, men start to pull ahead of women in pay.

Though the pay gap between men and women is well documented, it is startling to
discover that it begins so soon. According to a new study by the American Association of
University Women (AAUW), women already earn 20 per cent less than men at the same
level and in the same field one year after college graduation. Right at the beginning,
before taking time off for childbirth or child rearing, women find themselves behind. Of
course, it only gets worse. Today, women earn about 77 cents for every dollar a man
earns, according to census data, a figure that has remained steady for about a decade.

The gap is entrenched. The AAUW started studying the disparity in 1913, documenting
different pay for men and women among federal government workers. The latest study is
unusual because it devotes attention to the first year out of school. “We are looking at a
younger group of people who have many similarities,” said Catherine Hill, director of
research for the AAUW. “When they are just coming out of college, we expect to see
fewer differences.”

The gap, starting early, only widens as time goes on, according to the AAUW report
Behind the Pay Gap, recently released. Ten years after graduation, women fall further
behind, earning 69 per cent of what men earn. A 12 per cent gap appeared even when the
AAUW Educational Foundation, which did the research, accounted for hours,
occupation, parenthood and other factors known to directly affect earnings. The
remainder of the gap is unexplained by any other control factors. That may mean, Hill
said, that discrimination is the root cause.

What to do?

One word: negotiate. While discrimination accounts for some of the discrepancy, said
Linda Babcock, James Walton professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University,
women also suffer because they have not been taught to ask for more. Babcock, co-author
of Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, argues that women don’t
negotiate enough, or many times, at all. She is not blaming women for creating their own
wage gap, she said, but rather, society, for raising “little girls to accept the status quo.”

Babcock encountered such an example while watching one of her daughter’s favourite
television shows, Dragon Tales, an animated PBS series where a human brother and
sister visit friends in Dragon Land. In one episode, the sister wants to make friends with a
group of dragon scouts. Instead of just asking, Babcock said, the girl used indirect ways
to fit in. She eventually succeeded by urging the scouts to join in teamwork. For
Babcock, the show reflected reality: Women are brought up to avoid asking for anything

And so what can women do?

For one, realize that it’s not your fault, Babcock said. “It’s liberating that it’s not some
inherent piece of my personality that I do this. Those are the voices that have been in my
head over the years.” In a widely cited study from 1979, children in Grades 1, 4, 7 and 10
were given a set task, then asked to pay themselves based on how well they thought they
did. There was no difference between the sexes in the evaluations, but researchers found
that in every grade, girls paid themselves 30 per cent to 78 per cent less than boys did.

Babcock said women should use a “co-operative negotiation style” to get what they want.
For example, don’t go to a manager and say, “I have another job offer and unless you
match it, I’ll leave.” That approach would be seen as threatening from a woman, even if it
could be accepted from a man, Babcock said. So instead, reframe it: “I have this other
offer, but I’d like to find a way to stay here. Can you match it so I can stay?”

May 05, 2007
Amy Joyce
The Washington Post

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