KC Wednesday: The Pay Gap is More than Just Salary
This week’s post comes to us from the WISA KC and us written by Dr. Marianne Huger, Assistant Dean of Students and Interim Director of Disability Services at American University and Region II’s WISA KC representative
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) recently published a report that exposed the continued gender pay gap of recent college graduates. The report clearly shows that women earn significantly less money than similarly situated men. The report is worth a read. It shows that focused attention must be paid on gender equity in employment.
When I think about the gender pay gap, I first think about how female college graduates might have to live in smaller apartments, with more roommates, and in less desirable neighborhoods than their male peers. They might travel less often or bring rather than buy their lunches. So what is the big deal? These are college graduates who are employed, no small feat in today’s economy. I realize that these seemingly small realities add up to different life experiences, but there is a bigger story.
On Friday, I was in a university benefits presentation. The presenter spoke about the importance of saving for retirement, paying down student loans, and maintaining an emergency fund. According to the presenter’s calculations, each dollar saved, invested, or used wisely today represented huge increases in net worth and basic financial security in the future.
By earning less after college graduation, women must pay their student loans down more slowly, sacrifice priorities for their retirement, and put their families at financial risk. These factors are often not considered when negotiating salary, especially as college graduates enter the workforce.
As women in student affairs, we have several key roles to play in order to address this pay gap. When hiring, we should not let our unconscious biases judge candidates for negotiating salary. We should talk to our students about the financial realities of independence and expose them to financial planning resources. We must tell our students that they must believe in themselves and ask for what they are worth.
We will continue to chip away at the pay gap together.