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Career Planning

Myth or Reality? The Gender Pay Gap

New study proves gender pay gap exists.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

October 26, 2012

Myth or Reality? The Gender Pay Gap
In the second presidential debate, undecided voter Katherine Fenton took to the microphone and the national stage to ask President Obama and Governor Romney for their thoughts and policies on equal pay for women. Unfortunately, Fenton’s concern was downplayed in the weeks after as the country chose to focus on Governor Romney’s “binders full of women” comment instead of the real issue here. But on Wednesday of this week, a new report was released, according to the New York Daily News, about the gender pay gap, which got the country focused once more on the obvious discrepancies. The report from the American Association of University Women, “Graduating to a Pay Gap,” found that for every dollar a man makes, a woman only earns 82 cents in their first year out of college. The report also reveals that these millennial women have a harder time than their male peers in finding jobs out of college, reports HuffPost College. Consequently, the pay gap and difficulty finding employment after graduation result in greater difficulties paying back student loans for women compared to their male peers, the “Graduating to a Pay Gap” study implies.

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The study does point out that men typically choose higher paying careers, but it’s quick to point out that when men and women are compared within the same field or industry, the pay gap is evident: • Business majors: Women earned an average of $38,000 while men earned an average of $45,000
• Teachers: Women earned just 89% of men’s salaries
• Sales: Women earned only 77% of what their male peers earned

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Currently, there is a bill on the table in Congress that will help to eliminate the gender pay gap, known as the Paycheck Fairness Act. Though the bill has been rejected twice now, as reported in the Huffington Post, lawmakers are still pursuing a course of action in order to equalize pay in the United States. In the meantime, women can employ the following tactics to ensure they’re getting a salary that is comparable to that of their male peers:

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Know your worth. You have skills that set you apart from the competition; so when negotiating your salary, make note of your skill set and research how much these may be worth in your specific industry.
Be prepared. Don’t just research the skills you have – look at the industry across the board. provides a Salary Calculator that can help identify salaries for different fields by geographic location. Come equipped with these figures when negotiating your salary.
Don’t jump into specifics too early. In initial interviews, don’t set a specific figure. Instead, use terms like “negotiable” or “competitive,” and wait until you’re farther along in the interview process before getting too detailed. Avoid saying that you’re “flexible” or “willing to take whatever.” Let your future employer get to know you and your skill set so that they’re taking into account what you bring to the table and not how much you’re asking. What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap? Is it fact or fiction? Fair or unfair? Tell us!

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