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Women in Business

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Lpaho13

Women are leading men when it comes to enrolling in college. The gender gap in higher education flipped a few years ago. As of 2010, 57% of college students are female, while just 43% are male. This new gender gap should be encouraging, but it still hasn’t changed the pay gap. In a 40-year career, women will earn about $700,000 less than men.

So, what does this mean for women—and men—who will be competing for jobs? How will the gender gap in graduates affect the pay gap? And, what should women do to ensure that they’re paid fairly once they enter the workforce?

Knowing your role

The Lilly Ledbetter Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2009, removes the 180-day statute of limitations for female workers who want to sue for pay discrimination. Despite this bill becoming law, millions of women in this country still earn less than men. It’s imperative that women pay attention to their salaries, as well as their companies’ fair-pay regulations, and speak up in the event that their salaries differ from men performing the same jobs. The responsibility to pay women and men fairly still falls to employers, but women should also be aware of any pay disparities.

Securing an impressive education

Education is still the best way to secure a job that pays well. For women who’ve already entered the workforce, this may mean pursuing more education. Talk to your human resources department about possible tuition reimbursement programs, as well as flextime schedules that allow you to earn a degree while you work. Options include online MBA degrees or other distance learning programs that afford you the opportunity to work at your own pace. Evening programs are also a good option for women with families. While many women must balance working with education, your choice to get more education should not affect your salary.

Measuring your success

Of course, success is more than just the amount printed on your paycheck. For younger people entering the workforce, a large salary holds less significance than having a job that’s fulfilling and enjoyable. Being able to pay your bills is still one of the most important reasons people work, but it’s also important to find a work/life balance that allows you to pursue other interests outside of work: whether that’s raising a family, engaging in hobbies, or earning more education. This does not mean that women should ignore pay disparities if they occur, but it does mean that you are the only person who can determine whether you lead a successful life and that your job should not define you.

As more women enter colleges and the workforce, the pay gap is shrinking, but unfortunately, it’s a gap that still exists. For women earning degrees in various disciplines, researching salary averages, communicating with your employer about pay, and knowing your rights is important. The more you know about your career and your own personal goals, the more protected you can be.


Photo by Argonne National Laboratory

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