The wage gap tends to narrow at the top levels of some corporations — which is great. The problem, though, is that many women are not reaching that high on the corporate ladder. An article from The New York Times (opens in new tab) recently pointed out that women CEOs are more likely to make as much as their male colleagues, but they don't usually get that position.
This isn't an entirely new discovery. We're well aware of the lack of female chief executive officers (opens in new tab) — in the list of the world's top paid CEOs worldwide, there's not even one woman in the top 15. The Equilar Top 200 Highest Paid CEO Rankings (opens in new tab), conducted for The New York Times, also reflected the disparity between men and women in corporate America. Job choice (opens in new tab) remains another reason for the wage gap — even within the same industry (opens in new tab), women are still coming up behind men. In medicine (opens in new tab), for example, women are more often working as nurses and less often as surgeons, making for a big difference in pay.
One key factor in this could be that women in the United States (opens in new tab) don't have paid maternity leave. Employers are only required to give women 12 weeks (unpaid) off after having a baby — in fact, half of all first time mothers receive no paid leave.
The tech industry is noted for changing the game (opens in new tab), however, embracing flexibility regarding how employees work, rather than when they work. Since the industry is fast-paced and constantly changing, it's easier to bypass the traditional prejudices in place in other industries. Yahoo, for example, hired Marissa Mayer as chief executive when she was seven months pregnant. When Sukhinder Singh Cassidy was president of Asia Pacific and Latin America operations at Google and pregnant, her bosses agreed to pay for her baby and nanny to travel the world with her.
Of course, even women at the top executive level still face challenges (opens in new tab). Just last month, Jill Abramson's firing from The New York Times raised concerns (opens in new tab) over whether or not equal pay played a factor in her dismissal.
One study found found that discrimination does affect pay-for-performance compensation, which is meant to tie a chief's pay to the success of the company itself. Women reap less of the benefit for a positive performance, while men are more often to receive a bonus for getting lucky — meaning the company performs well based on factors that had nothing to do with their own skills.
The more women on top, (opens in new tab) the better: Women who work for a company where a woman is the chief executive or heads the board are likely to make more than in a similar company led by men. Companies led by women have also shown to have more women in senior positions, which can be a helpful force in changing this imbalance.
Mind the Gap On Your Way Up the Corporate Ladder (opens in new tab)
Why Young Women Should Care About Equal Pay Day (opens in new tab)
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