The Hidden Figures: Exploring Inequality in Women's Salaries

While women got the right to work back in the 1800s, we're still facing a problem in the workforce today: Pay Equality.

Katlyne Veihl

4/17/20244 min read

I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I have became a women's basketball fan over the course of a year! Between South Carolina's National Championship, Caitlin Clark being the #1 draft pick, and Angel Reese making headlines, it's no surprise that more people are paying attention to the ladies. In fact, an AVERAGE of 18.7 million viewers watched the Women's College National Championship Game, and 2.446 million people watched the WNBA draft (a whopping 300% increase over the last year!). However, along with that came some concerning information: their pay while going pro. In 2023, WNBA players made on average only $113,295 base salary, compared to the NBA's base salary of $9.7 MILLION.

While the WNBA's base salary is over 3 times the median wage for the American woman, it shines light onto a bigger problem within the U.S. Women, on average, make 16% less than men on the job.

In fact, women of color are among the lowest-paid workers in rural areas

With them only making 56 cents for every dollar that rural white, non-Hispanic men make. Even if you take race out of the equation, women are making an average salary of $30,605 compared to men making $45,902.

While there are factors that play into these statistics, like experience, location, and qualifications, this is still a problem.

Here is a list from Forbes, of the Jobs with the Largest Gender Pay Gap, for the same role in the profession:

  1. Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents- $29,952 difference

  2. Personal Finance Advisors- $38,012 difference

  3. Insurance Sales Agents- $25,272 difference

  4. Sales Managers- $34,840 difference

  5. Financial Managers- $33,696 difference

There are a FEW jobs that women are paid equally, if not more, than their male co-workers. If you're a woman and interested in being a compliance officer, teaching assistant, vocational nurse, or a wholesale and retail buyer, you might be in luck! You could make the same amount, if not 2-3% more than the men in the profession.

While some may view this as a tiny victory for women as a whole, we should not have to be confined to these job titles to feel like we are being valued enough to be compensated the same as a man.

These are a few more stats about the gender pay gap:
  • The pay gap between men and women only widens with more education.

  • Women receive 20% less than men in Social Security benefits.

  • Women contribute 30% less than men to their retirement accounts.

Mind you, this is not hidden information. You can find all of these number, and more, on the U.S. Census Bureau, Social Security Administration, and the U.S Government Accountability Office websites.

Since the pandemic, the economy crash has hit the majority of people hard. As women, we literally cannot afford to be paid less than we're worth. So what do we do?!

Negotiating has to be based off of research and facts, not emotions. You don't need to share your earning history with recruiters, you need to come ready to prove what you are worth. As unfair as it is, when it comes to pay you're already at a disadvantage, so you need to work efficiently to make your argument. If you're already settled within your job/career, it is always okay to negotiate your pay! If you made your points, and they still will not adequately pay you, do not be afraid to job hop!

These women have some tips on negotiating within the workforce and how women can shrink the gender pay gap.

Women are also turning to having multiple sources of income, like investing, opening up businesses, learning trades, becoming content creators, and more. This is a great option, not only because you have the biggest influence on what you do and how much you make, it also allows other women to support you along this journey. If we all joined together and supported other women trying in their journey into Entrepreneurship, we would be unstoppable.

Go Where You're Appreciated ... AND Compensated!
Negotiate for yourself!!

With all that being said, there is no "fix all" to this problem we face. This has been going on for centuries, and will not correct itself overnight. Again, the gap IS closing, but the issue is that there is a gap at all. Women, however, shouldn't feel like this is their sole societal responsibility, or does it reflect the value they bring to the companies they work for. The best thing for women to do is to educate themselves, be confident, stay motivated, and advocate for themselves!

Supporting organizations that were founded to help bridge the gender pay gap is always a good option as well! These are a few making great strides for the cause!

Nearly every profession has a gender pay gap, with some being to the upwards of a 60% difference.