Close the Gender Pay Gap with SWE

We need to continue to work to close the gender pay gap and not let our tendencies to be 'too nice' get in the way of being paid fairly.
Close the Gender Pay Gap with SWE

By Jonna Gerken, FY18 President, Society of Women Engineers

Last week we featured an article by Roberta Rincón, Ph.D., Manager of Research at the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), about the pay gap in engineering, and with the recent Equal Pay Day, we are reminded that although we as engineers are typically very well paid, there is still work to be done in our industries to ensure we are getting paid the same as men for the same work. 

Even a small difference in pay compounds over a lifetime of earnings.  And since women have a longer lifespan than men (by about 4 years worldwide), that shortfall in earnings, and associated savings, can leave us shortchanged in retirement. What can we do now to drive change?

We can start by asking for raises rather than waiting for it to come.  Doing a good/great job is not enough– advocate for yourself and ask.  If you suspect a pay gap at your job, use online tools to see if how you are paid compared to others in your area and role then bring that data to your manager.  It may help start a conversation that results in a review for not only your role, but the larger organization as it did for Salesforce.  

If you are a manager yourself, advocate for your employees - use the data you have access to and review it with the thought: "Are they doing the same job? Do they have the same responsibilities? Are they the same labor grade/level? Are they being paid equivalently?"

If you are job searching, get comfortable negotiating.  There are lots of resources within SWE to assist in learning how, knowing your worth, and what to say.  The biggest change we can have is to close the gap where it starts and not let the impact compound over time.  

For those who took a break, a detour to another role/occupation - do your homework.  Don't accept any offer that you get upon returning to engineering.  Ask around, find out what colleagues are making (if they'll share), understand how the organization works for promotions, raises, etc and what the company values.  Know the keywords that will make you a more valuable candidate.  And practice negotiating before you get to the table.

We need to continue to work to close the pay gap and not let our tendencies to be 'too nice' get in the way of being paid fairly.  In the words of a famous company for women, "You're worth it!"