Women and the Wage Gap


From news reports to YouTube videos, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “wage gap” thrown around by now. The phrase often refers to the difference in pay between men and women in comparable positions, and at the risk of spoiling it for you, women seem to come out on the losing end of the comparison every time. It’s a sad reality, a hot political topic, and something that transparency and frankness aim to rectify.

“A-ha!”, you might be saying to yourself. “I’m a self-employed lady boss, so the wage gap doesn’t apply to me.”

The truth is, it does, and being unaware of that fact can cost you some serious cash. For every dollar a man makes, women are still sitting at right around 80 cents, and that number dips even lower for women of color. Those who choose to work for themselves are just as affected as those who work for other people, so if you’re wondering how to come out on top in what still feels (and pays) like a man’s world, we’ve got some valuable information to help get you there.

Lower Payouts for Ladies

It’s true that women’s work has been historically undervalued—either they were thought uneducated and unfit, or they were hired for far less than their male counterparts. Between societal pressures to do little more than tend to the home and the fact that you weren’t guaranteed a job at a fair rate of pay anyway, the career options for female go-getters were abysmal in years gone by.

Times changed (as they have a tendency to do), and legislation was passed that was designed to level the professional playing field for women. Awesome, right? In theory, but in practice, it was a whole different ball game (so to speak).

The reason that the wage gap still exists is all speculative, but some expert theories involve women being less assertive than men when it comes to their salaries, and the idea that they’ll lose their professional drive in favor of motherhood. Employees are often dissuaded from and even punished for discussing their income with colleagues, which might leave underpaid gals in the dark when it comes to what they should be earning.

Another theory? Old-fashioned sexism. While laws have been put in place to help eliminate gender bias, not everyone has caught up with the times, and these are ideologies that are deeply rooted in our society. Attitudes alone can thwart even the most promising career, and that extends to the self-employed as well.

Not Just a Timeclock-Puncher Problem

If you own your own business or provide a service for a fee, you choose your own rates. You have full control over the projects you take on and the ones you turn down, so you might think that there’s no way anyone can pay you less than you deserve. The truth, however, is more complicated than that.

A recent study conducted by FreshBooks strove to analyze the impact of the wage gap on female entrepreneurs, and their findings were startling. Among the many statistics they have to share, a standout was that maintaining clientele in a female-led organization equates to charging lower prices for nearly one-quarter of the women surveyed. Lower fees for the same job? That’s not good for business.

The news doesn’t get better from there. FreshBooks also highlighted the specific professional fields they dug into, and in all but one, self-employed men make more than ladies by at least $15,000. Beyond that, these numbers factor in more than just female CEOs—they include contract workers, freelancers, and the like. The problem is pervasive, but all hope is not lost. There are steps you can take to help ensure you’re getting your fair share while putting your dazzling skills on the map.

Bridging The Gap

  • Consult with your peers – One easy way to find out if you’re being underpaid is by networking and testing the waters. Find out what your competitors charge for their services, or join a business association and discuss your offerings with other entrepreneurs. Dig deeply into market research, and emerge with a firmer understanding of your worth.
  • Build your confidence – No one is going to believe in (or buy) what you’ve got if you don’t, so in many ways, your success begins with you. A wage gap may feel like the odds are stacked against you, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle. Don’t shy away from demanding precisely what you’re owed, and run your business like you own it. After all, you do.
  • Don’t confuse your passion with your paycheck – While you might be heading an organization because you truly believe in its mission, you don’t have to allow that to sabotage your bankroll. Wanting a fair rate of pay doesn’t cheapen the amazing work you’re capable of, and being sure of your value can mean the difference between success and failure both personally and professionally.
  • Be smart with your finances – One enormous mistake many entrepreneurs make is trying to manage every facet of business alone. A financial professional can help you manage your personal money, allowing you to put more focus on business profitability. Set up a consultation, and make sure you’re on track for all future financial milestones.

AGE-142079 (1/19)(Exp. 1/21)

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