The unanswered question regarding pay equity

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Its no secret that HR is a female-dominated occupation.  Attend any SHRM chapter meeting, and it is more than likely that there will be twice as many women in the audience than men.

The Equal Pay Act was passed nearly 50 years ago.  Yet, concerns about pay equity abound.  Statistics, such as women make $.76 for every dollar a male earns, continue to be quoted.  Recent legislative efforts such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the failed Paycheck Fairness Act continue to try to chip away at inequity.  At the same time, efforts at the State level make this more difficult - in Wisconsin, for example, Governor Scott Walker repealed the 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act, arguing that lawyers were clogging up the legal system.

And then I read this: Sigh!

Female physician researchers make less money than their male counterparts, researchers found.
Among recipients of National Institutes of Health (NIH) career development awards, the average reported annual salary was $167,669 for women and $200,433 for men, according to Reshma Jagsi, MD, DPhil, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues.
Even after adjustment for differences in specialty, academic rank, leadership positions, publications, and research time, there remained an absolute difference of $13,399 per year between the sexes (P=0.001), the researchers reported in the June 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study, which is consistent with a previous study of life sciences researchers, "provides evidence that gender differences in compensation continue to exist in academic medicine, even among a select cohort of physician researchers whose job content is far more similar than in cohorts previously studied, and even after controlling extensively for specialization and productivity," they wrote.
Even when taking into account marriage and parenthood, the difference was statistically significant, which means that women were shortchanged over a lifetime of nearly $350,000.

The following question thus remains unanswered:

Given the prevalence of women in HR, the pervasive knowledge about pay differentials, and tools such as the Equal Pay Act and Lilly Ledbetter, why hasn't pay inequity been eradicated?

You have a multitude of women in the primary position to address the concern, yet it persists.   Why?


One comment

For the most part, I think it is because those pay inequities are institutionalized.

And many times, the woman in HR may be in the position to notice it and comment on it, but isn't in the position to change it on a brad basis.

I know when I brought it up once, I was told "but he has a family to feed", as if that somehow mattered, but it mattered to the guy in charge of the dollars. And without a law saying it MUST be fixed - there wasn't much to do - except exit stage left at the first available moment.

I don't think its right, but I think its there.

by Southern Wine Trails on June 13, 2012 at 3:35 PM. #

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