Written by Kelley Holland: Every year the latest gender pay gap figures are released, and every year we engage in collective hand wringing. The latest government statistics show that on average, women earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by a man.
In a few professions, the tables are turned, though. A recent study by Glassdoor identified five fields where women actually earn more. If you work in architecture, the music industry, advertising, environmental science, or kinesiology, you can expect to out-earn your male counterparts five years into your career.
Great, right? Sign me up for a kinesiology degree program.
Where Do We Really Stand in Equal Pay
OK, that’s not fair. This is truly good news for the women involved, and if their skills at work and the negotiating table made it happen, congratulations are in order. But why, in 2017, do we need to celebrate the fact that five professions pay women more?
I actually tried to figure out how many people – not just women – these fields employ. According to the government data I found, these five industries account for less than half of one percent of the full time civilian workforce.
It’s not like equal pay in these fields means life is a bed of roses, either. Yen Ha, a principal in a New York-based architecture firm, told The New York Times in 2016 that architecture is “still largely a white, male-dominated field, and seeing a woman at the job site or in a big meeting with developers is not that common. Every single day I have to remind someone that I am, in fact, an architect. And sometimes not just an architect, but the architect.”
Unfortunately, women can’t achieve workplace parity by themselves. But there are things we can do.
What Can Women Do to Achieve Workplace Parity?
For one thing, women can learn to “own” their achievements. I have coached women who have clawed their way from nothing to a six-figure salary, built a reputation as a stellar teacher, and started now-thriving businesses, and until these were pointed out to them as accomplishments, they viewed them as not that special or the product of random luck. Too many women have a habit of selling themselves short.
Women can also develop better negotiating chops. One way is to take advantage of a truism for many women – that it is easier for women to negotiate on behalf of others. When you talk into a salary negotiation, remember that your children/elderly parents/employees all stand to benefit when you are paid what you are worth. Negotiate because it’s good for them, not just you, and you may find courage you didn’t know you had.
Yes, these recent findings are good news for women. Unfortunately, though, they only apply to a select few. I’ll hold my end-of-pay-gap cheers for when there is a bigger change – and I truly believe women will make that happen.