Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘Glass ceiling’

Despite Breaking The Glass Ceiling, Women At The Top Earn Less

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

There are few frontiers anymore. Women are CEOs, brain surgeons, law partners and astronauts. Little girls have role models in nearly any occupation they want to pursue.

Yet the gender pay gap persists, even for women in high-paying professions. In fact, the pay gap is wider at the top than it is for “working class” women. And the gulf is growing. Did someone cancel the Equal Pay Act?

The gender gap is a canyon in top-earning professions

It’s not that some HR person decides to pay X amount to Joe and a lesser salary to Jane. The wage gap accrues over time in different and sometimes subtle ways. Gender bias in job postings, salary negotiations and performance reviews. The “father bonus” and “mommy penalty” for working parents.  A lack of mentoring opportunities for women. And the Catch-22 of salary history.

Both anecdotally and statistically, the gender gap persists in nearly every field. But it is especially pronounced at the highest levels. Male corporate executives reap millions more in pay and perks. Male doctors earn substantially more than female counterparts in the same specialty. Likewise scientists, lawyers, engineers, computer programmers and financial advisers.

This is counter to the overall trend. In wage earner jobs, the pay gap still exists but it has steadily shrunk. Women of color have made the biggest gains. But at the top, the playing field remains uneven and apparently getting worse.

Is there really a pay gap?

Back in the 1960s, before the passage of the Equal Pay Act, women in American earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. The pay gap has shrunk considerably; women now earn 77 cents against the male dollar. In fact, detractors claim there is no wage gap at all. They contend women earn less because they choose lower-paying jobs, have less education or experience, work fewer hours, or voluntarily drop out of the workforce.

Some of those arguments are valid, but numerous studies show that a gender gap remains after accounting for all those factors. In other words, there is still a disparity that cannot be explained by non-discriminatory factors.

What about women in the federal workforce?

According to the General Accounting Office, the federal employee gender pay gap has also shrunk over the decades. Much of that decline is a shift from low-paying clerical work that was dominated by women to more sophisticated jobs requiring higher education and experience. But after controlling for other factors, the GAO says there is still an unexplained gender gap of about 7 percent. There is less gender disparity in lower end General Schedule jobs where starting pay scales are more rigid.

But, as with the private sector, there is still a notable gap at the top levels of federal employment. For example, women in GS 14, GS 15 and SES positions may earn less than male counterparts or predecessors even though they hold Ph.D.’s and the requisite experience. Those old biases that favor men pervade even the federal government.

What if you think you are being paid less in your government job?

Making a case for a raise or promotion is one thing. Proving gender discrimination is another. Have there been other indications of unequal treatment, such as derogatory comments, different assignments, or being pulled from certain accounts or assignments? Are male counterparts with lesser credentials advanced or paid more? Are there trends in how men and women in the department are treated? Does your manager consider salary history (a system which perpetuates the gender gap) in determining what you should be paid in your current job?

The employment law attorneys of Passman & Kaplan, P.C., focus almost exclusively on the rights of federal sector employees. We represented government workers up and down the strata and in every federal agency.

This blog was originally published by Passman & Kaplan, P.C., Attorneys at Law on May 27, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Founded in 1990 by Edward H. Passman and Joseph V. Kaplan, Passman & Kaplan, P.C., Attorneys at Law, is focused on protecting the rights of federal employees and promoting workplace fairness.  The attorneys of Passman & Kaplan (Edward H. Passman, Joseph V. Kaplan, Adria S. Zeldin, Andrew J. Perlmutter, Johnathan P. Lloyd and Erik D. Snyder) represent federal employees before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and other federal administrative agencies, and also represent employees in U.S. District and Appeals Courts.

Companies In This Country Now Have To Have At Least 30 Percent Women On Their Boards

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Bryce CovertOn Friday, Germany passed a law that will require companies to give 30 percent of supervisory board positions to women.

The quota will apply to the country’s 100 biggest companies by next year, where women currently hold just 18.6 percent of board director seats. Another 3,500 have until September 30 to submit their plans for increasing the share of women on their boards.

The fact that German companies have less than 20 percent women on their boards means that the country is surpassed by many European peers. Norway tops the list with 35.5 percent female boards, followed by Finland, France, and Sweden, which all have just under 30 percent female representation, and Belgium, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and the Netherlands, which all have above 20 percent.

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What makes these countries stand out is the policies they already put in place for board diversity. Noway was the first to pass a gender quota in 2008, while France, Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark have all since followed suit. Sweden and the United Kingdom don’t have binding laws, but the former has threatened to institute one if companies don’t increase diversity, while the UK set a goal of 25 percent women on boards that spurred rapid diversification. Spain, Iceland, and Italy also have quotas.

Women’s global progress toward equality in board representation has been slow. Their share of seats had only increased by 1.7 percent since 2009 as of 2013. Most of that progress has taken place in Europe, where these quotas are common.

In the United States, by contrast, growth has been slower. Women make upless than 20 percent of board positions at S&P 500 companies. A different measure, of companies in the Fortune 500, found in 2013 that women made up less than 17 percent of seats and hadn’t made inroads in eight straight years. There are more men named John, Robert, James and William on American boards than all women combined.

The one rule the U.S. has for gender diversity on boards lies with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which requires them to disclose how they consider diversity when choosing board members. But it’s so vaguely written that few companies take it to mean gender or racial diversity, instead focusing on experience or background. Some also comply with the rule by simply saying they don’t take diversity into account.

Quotas, on the other hand, appear to work, at least when it comes to increasing women’s representation on boards. Norway’s quota hasn’t just significantly increased the number of women on boards, but has also increased the quality of female candidates. Other research has found that since it’s been in place, corporate directors now value women’s contributions and have come to support it.

Companies also stand to benefit from better board diversity. One study found that companies with more than one woman on their boards have seen a 3.3 percent better stock market return since 2005 than those that are all male, while at least two other studies have come to the same conclusion. Gender diversity also leads companies to make decisions that protect company value and performance and away from those that lead to fraud, corruption, or other scandals.

This article originally appeared in thinkprogress.org on March 10, 2015. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Bryce Covert is the Economic Policy Editor for ThinkProgress. She was previously editor of the Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal blog and a senior communications officer. She is also a contributor for The Nation and was previously a contributor for ForbesWoman. Her writing has appeared on The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Nation, The Atlantic, The American Prospect, and others. She is also a board member of WAM!NYC, the New York Chapter of Women, Action & the Media.

Women Aren’t Leaving The Work Force To Have Kids, It’s Leaving Them

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Common wisdom that women do not make it into upper management positions because they choose to have children and focus on their families is wrong, new research indicates.

A survey conducted by the Harvard Business School has found that personal choices are not responsible for women’s struggle to find a work-life balance. The study showed that women who chose to leave the workplace after having children did so because they felt they had little chance of advancing and not because they chose to have families.

The survey probed the idea that gender imbalances in workplaces exist because women choose to opt out and have children, a dynamic that 77 percent of those surveyed thought was the main thing responsible for hurting women’s careers. Around a fourth of women between 32 and 48 and 44 percent of women between 49 and 67 had temporarily left work for their children, but only 11 percent of all surveyed women had permanently left the workforce because of their children. After controlling for variables such as age and industry type, the researchers couldn’t find a connection between asking for family-leave and the lack of women in senior positions.

Instead, they found that the relationship between women’s child-rearing decisions and their career opportunities runs the opposite direction.

Less than half of the women surveyed said they felt satisfied with their careers. Only 41 percent of women said they were satisfied with their opportunities for career growth. The study also found that there was a large gap in who got senior management positions: 57 percent of men had access to these positions, while only 41 percent of women did. The researchers suggest that women who have children choose to leave the workforce “as a last resort, because they find themselves in unfulfilling roles with dim prospects for advancement.”

The study, which was published in Harvard Business Review, looked at 25,000 graduates of Harvard Business School.

When it comes to balancing work and family life, women are at a disadvantage. The US is ranked ninth to last among developed countries when it comes to work-life balance, and 17 out of 22 for women’s participation in the workforce. Men are more likely to get requests for flexible work schedules approved and are more likely to be able to work from home. Despite being paid less than men, women tend to have jobs that are more stressful and offer less security.

This blog originally appeared in Thinkprogress.org on December 4, 2014. Reprinted with permission. http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/12/04/3599039/harvard-business/

About the author: Amelia Rosch is an intern for ThinkProgress.

 

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