It's hard to argue that women don't take some kind of salary penalty—most studies have found some gap between what the genders earn—but in some fields, women are at a particular disadvantage, new research shows.
A report released on Wednesday by salary website Glassdoor found that that women are paid, on average, five cents less on the dollar than men in the same position who are equally qualified and work at the same company. The study, which analyzed 505,000 salary reports from full-time employees in 25 industries, adjusted for such factors as age, experience, company, state, industry, level of education, and job title. Female computer scientists endure the largest gap, at 28 percent.
Many women may have no idea that they're earning less than the guy at the next desk.
"Money is considered the final frontier of shame," said Sallie Krawcheck, chief executive officer and co-founder of Ellevest, a digital advisor for women. "People are often reticent to talk about how much they make and how they invest, and that can lead to women not realizing how big the wage gap actually is." Women may undervalue their education in salary negotiations, said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor. "We're moving toward a workforce where women are better educated than men, on average, and if women don't fully understand the value of their degree, they may not be asking for what they deserve."
Jobs with wide pay gaps are common in health care: Women who are dentists, physicians, psychologists, pharmacists, medical technicians, and opticians see a difference in pay from their male colleagues that ranges from 14 percent to 28 percent.
In 2015, California passed California Fair Pay Act to ameliorate the pay gap in that state by mandating that male and female employees who do "substantially similar" work be paid the same. In this light, the bill gives power to employees who feel their compensation reflects workplace discrimination. Such laws serve a twofold purpose, said Dawn Lyon, Glassdoor's vice president of corporate affairs: They expose the wage gap and help women renegotiate their salaries as labor market conditions and experience levels change.
The job role with the smallest gender wage gap is event coordinator, with 0.2 percent higher average male pay. Some occupations, including social worker, communications associate, social media representative, and research assistant, even swing in the other direction, with women earning marginally more than men.
Krawcheck suggests women overcome that discomfort about asking for a raise. "Getting to his dollar represents a 30 percent or more increase in our pay," she said, referring to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' estimate of the wage gap. "If you make $85,000 a year and get the raise to men’s level, that adds up to $1.7 million over the course of 30 years. That’s worth the short-term stress."