By Dr. Renae Sanders
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why in 2011 women still make significantly less money than men?” It’s an interesting question given the strides women have made towards leadership in organizations. Here are some of the facts about the women’s worforce:
- In 2006, women, in Fortune 500 companies, made up 15.6% of the 10,000 plus corporate officer positions according to Catalyst Women (2006).
- In 2008, “women accounted for 51% of all persons employed in management, professional, and related occupations” (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009).
- Additionally, Lowrey (2006) reported, through the U.S. Small Business Administration, women owned 28.2% or 6.5 million of nonfarm United States (U.S.) firms, and 14% of women owned businesses accounted for 7.1 million workers.
Even though women are rising into positions of management and leadership, the income gap for women (white, African American, and Latina) remains $.67 per $1 earned by white men (WomenMedia, 2009). Can women afford to blame men for the salary chasm? Do women also play a supporting role in perpetuating the income gap? It should hardly be surprising if they do.
There is a plethora of research indicating that despite the nurturing and supportive nature of women’s friendships, these relationships are often peppered with behaviors such as exclusion, gossip, competition, and aggression (Cantor, et al., 2004). Work relationships are subject to these behaviors too, based on perceptions of power and status (Betero, 2003; Duncan & Owen-Smith, 2006). Add all of this women’s socialization (i.e. the direct and indirect messages) that men are stronger leaders, more analytical, heads of households, and the ultimate prize and the complexities of women’s leadership takes on a whole new light.
Much of the competition between women has a lot to with “men being the ultimate prize”. Chesler (2001) wrote in the book Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman discussed a long held notion that women lack trust of other women, especially when a “handsome” man was involved. In fact, the author highlighted a perspective of male attorneys that in the case of a rape of a woman by an attractive man, the lawyers should put more women on the jury, as women tended to sympathize with the man! Who knew? Well, it’s no secret women blame the other woman when her spouse or partner cheats. Given that men by and large are the corporate leaders, then women are also trying to win the approval and attention of their male bosses. All of these dynamics must impact the salary question and answers!
So the questions are do women give men higher salaries and raises than they do women? Do men limit the amount of salaries and increases women can provide to workers? What about women of color and out lesbians? OR are women, in general, just more frugal with corporate assets than men? Whatever the answer, the salary gap is a shared responsibility and organizational leaders, men and women, must clearly understand their motivations when making salary and performance evaluations if we are to ever see shrinkage in the salary gap between the sexes.
Bertero, M. G. (2003). Indirect aggression amongst women in investment banking. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Wright Institute Graduate School of Psychology.
Bureau of Labor and Statistics. (2009). Women in the labor force: A databook (2009 ed.). Retrieved March 10, 2010, from http://www.bls.gov/cps/wlf-intro-2009.htm
Cantor, D., Goodheart, C., Haber, S., McGrath, E., Rubenstien, A., Walker, L., Zager, K., with Thompson, A. (2004). Finding your voice: A women’s guide to using self-talk for fulfilling relationships, work, and life. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Catalyst Women. (2006). 2005 Catalyst census of women corporate officers and top earners of the Fortune 500. Retrieved October 21, 2006, from www.catalyst.org
Chesler, P. (2001). Woman’s inhumanity to woman. Thunder’s Mouth Press/Nation Books: New York, NY.
Duncan, L., & Owen-Smith, A. (2006). Powerlessness and the use of indirect aggression in friendships. Sex Roes. 55, 493-502.
Kolb, D., Williams, J., and Frohlinger, C. (2009). Confronting the gender gap in wages. Retrieved March 23, 2011, from http://www.womensmedia.com/money/107-confronting-the-gender-gap-in-wages.html
Lowrey, Y. (2006, August). Women in business, 2006: A Demographic review of women’s business ownership. Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration, 280. Retrieved October 21, 2006, from www.sba.gov/advo
Dr. Renae Sanders is the Managing Director at KRS Consulting, LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in organizational relationships. Believing people are the link between strategy and success, Renae works with organizations, leaders, and managers to strengthen internal relationships. You can reach Dr. Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org.