Equal Pay Day 2023: Closing the Gap Is About More Than Money

Equal Pay Day 2023: Closing the Gap Is About More Than Money

Written by Kimberly Jacobs

Equal Pay Day

In March, women are celebrated for their accomplishments as leaders, pioneers, and inventors, over decades and centuries. Equal Pay Day on March 14 reminds us that although much has been accomplished there is still more to do to close the pay wage gap. 

Simply acknowledging women's contributions to society while having them work an additional 73 days to equal a white non-hispanic man's pay shines a light on how far women must go until pay equality is reached. Despite legislation such as the Equal Pay Law of 1963, Paycheck Fairness Act, and Fair Pay Act, women working full-time jobs make 84 cents and all earners (part-time and seasonal) make 77 cents for every dollar. The wage gap increases when considering intersectional identities like gender, ethnicity, sexuality, immigration status, parenthood, and caregiver roles. 

Financial inequality has a significant impact on women and society at large due to the unpaid and unbalanced role women take on in caring for their families. These responsibilities often include being head of household, "invisible work" such as household chores, childcare, emotional and relational caregiving, and being engaged in their communities. While balancing family life they also commit to their career growth through upskilling and networking only to be underpaid compared to their male counterparts. All of these factors impact women's mental health leading to exhaustion, depression, and anxiety. The weight of balancing financial and emotional responsibilities often go unseen and unrecognized. Women making less than their male counterparts are 2.4 times more depressed, four times more likely to experience anxiety, and 57% of women in tech say they feel burnout.

Meanwhile, companies benefit greatly from the labor of women. It's been proven that gender balanced companies are more profitable and productive by 63%, have an enhanced business reputation by 59%, and are more innovative. Furthermore, having women in leadership positions, especially the C-Suite and board members has proven to increase net profit margins and produce more patents for companies.

Women in Tech

Joining the tech industry is marketed as an opportunity for women and minorities to increase their earnings more than in some other industries. It has a perceived lower barrier of entry due to coding bootcamps, self-taught or asynchronous learning, and communities like Women Who Code offering resources. There is also a push for more girls and women to participate in STEM/STEAM. Still, they often find themselves as one if not the only woman in their program and unsupported when studying computer science, data science, cybersecurity, IT, etc. In 2021, only 18% of women held a bachelor's degree in computer science, compared to 37% in 1984.

The "bro culture" in tech makes little room for women to thrive despite their skills and education being equal to or above men and the benefits women bring to the industry. Although women typically make more money in tech, they are offered 2.5% less than men for the same job with the same experience. 

Women make up 47% of the workforce, but in 2022 only 26.7% of women worked in tech. The pay wage gap is a symptom of a more significant issue in tech, like women not being hired for more technical developer and engineering roles. WWCode's 2022 annual Equal Pay Day survey addresses other problems women experience, like being stuck in entry-level and mid-career level positions due to unclear career paths, mentorship, and the lack of other women in senior and executive level positions to help them. The desire for career advancement and growth leads to women leaving the industry at a time when the industry needs diverse women the most on teams and in leadership positions as technology rapidly changes and is incorporated into our daily lives. 

Recently, the systemic issues women face in their career have led to 45% of women in tech experiencing layoffs. In many instances, companies have used the last in, first out method for layoff decisions, and people in less technical and non-senior leadership roles were more likely to be dismissed. 

Closing the Pay Gap

When discussing closing the pay wage gap, the conversation at the base level is about money. It should go without saying that companies should pay women the same salary for the same work as men. Beyond salary and pay transparency companies should create a company culture that is inclusive of everyone. 

 Use unbiased practices at every stage of hiring, including resume review, interview, and training. Incorporate a people first approach to supporting employees growth including clear career paths, giving opportunities to show technical and leadership skills as an IC on the team, and being intentional about hiring diverse senior leadership in all departments. 

Women Who Code conducts its annual Equal Pay Day survey to learn about career trends in the industry as it relates to women's access to resources, career growth, equal pay, and job satisfaction. Share your experience in the WWCode Equal Pay Day survey.