If you don’t believe the pay gap exists, you might want to Google it! Because Google is in some hot water with the Department of Labor for “extreme” pay discrimination against women.
Last Friday, the US labor department accused your favorite search engine (if you use Bing, you should probably stop reading this article and reevaluate some life decisions) of “systemic compensation disparities” after investigating some of the company’s job and salary history data.
So why was the DoL all up in Google’s interface? Well, the investigation is actually part of a lawsuit that the government has filed against the tech company because Google refused to hand over compensation information. Hmm..wonder why?
Google has contracts with the federal government, which means that they need to comply with routine audits that ensure the company is abiding by equal employment laws. These laws basically protect employees from discrimination based on race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, and national origin. Trump is currently rolling back these laws against discrimination, but that’s neither here nor there. This time around, Google told the Department of Labor, “no thanks” to providing all the information needed for the audit and that didn’t fly. So the DoL took the company to court and discovered what Google probably didn’t want to surface in their search results.
According to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance, there is “very significant” discrimination against women and that that pay gap exists across the entire workforce. Google still claims they are gender-blind when it comes to compensation models and denies any gender-based disparity in salary at their company. They also claim that the OFCC is asking for way too much info about compensation, which seems to be a necessary component for the investigation on...compensation.
And while in this case, the pay gap between men and women at Google is “extreme” and the tech industry is notorious for a lack of gender diversity and salary disparity, this is just a high-profile example of the much bigger issue of the wage gap that exists across the country and around the world.
Now as the trolls like to, so politely, point out on my Instagram, there are some issues with the frequently referenced “women make 79 cents to the dollar” statistic, in that it simply compares the median salary for women to that for men. So while it’s an accurate figure, it doesn’t account for different sized gaps in varying industries, maternity leave or time off for family care, differing education levels, or even different jobs.
That said, the gap does exist and it’s evident from the moment men and women enter the job market.
A recent study compared MBA graduates’ salaries to see how this gap plays out on a more micro level. All else being equal, men will still make more in their first jobs after graduation than women. And this gap only widens with age and with conflicting responsibilities that put a unique burden on women, like childcare. But even when you take out the mommy argument, childless women STILL make less than men in comparable positions and industries.
Another frequently touted argument against the wage gaps it that, ”women choose to go into lower paying professions.” Unfortunately, there is actually a lot of evidence that shows that when women enter an industry, the pay for those jobs decreases and this goes for predominantly female fields as well as ones that are predominantly male.
And you can also shove all your “well women are just not good negotiators” nonsense right up your gap, because studies show that women are in fact perfectly suitable at negotiating but they know from different studies (and experience) that managers are less interested in working with women who ask for higher salaries. Studies show that they can even face backlash for doing so in the form of fewer assignments, negative performance reviews, and even having job offers rescinded.
And lastly, my personal favorite argument from the ‘wage gap is a myth’ camp: that women don’t work hard enough. Now, if the people who say things like this had ever come in contact with a woman, then they would know this is not true...but just for funsies I’ll break this last one down for you real plain and simple. Women work. A lot. But unfortunately, even when they work more hours than men in the same position, they do not get the same recognition for it. And then after they’ve worked their 15 hour day, do you know what they do? Unpaid...they go home and make dinner, take care of the kids, wash the dishes, take care of their partners, do the laundry, clean the house, put the kids to bed, probably respond to more work emails...and then do it all over again the next day. In fact, in the United States women on average do over 4 hours of unpaid work a day, which is 60% more than unpaid work completed by men.
So while I know my work will be cut out for me in the comments section after discussing such a polarizing fact on the Internet, let’s just do a quick recap: the wage gap exists, Google appears to have provided a great example of it in one of the largest, most well-known companies in the world, and we can start to shrink the gap by first acknowledging its existence and then making adjustments both at the policy level, like keeping equal pay legislation, Donald and recognizing unpaid labor, AND at the business level by allowing for more flexible hours to accommodate childcare needs and addressing disparities.