Benefits and Compensation, Recruiting

Unequal Pay, Unequal Opportunity

A recent survey finds that although employers believe there should be pay equality in the United States, women often remain skeptical about their own careers.


Source: RuslanDashinsky / E+ / Getty

The survey was conducted within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder, a provider of human capital solutions, and includes responses from 888 hiring and Human Resource managers ages 18 and over (employed full-time, not self-employed, nongovernment) and 809 employees ages 18 and over (employed full-time, not self-employed, nongovernment), between November 28 and December 20, 2017.
Data for employers were weighted where necessary by company size and job level, and data for employees were weighted where necessary by gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, income, education, and industry to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

Survey Findings—Employee Perspective

Nearly a third of women (32%) do not think they are making the same pay as men in their organization who have similar experience and qualifications, compared to 12% of men.
Findings suggest inequality at work may be tied to differences in expectations.
Men are more likely to expect higher job levels during their career—29% of men think they will reach a director level or higher, compared to 22% of women. A quarter of women (25%) never expect to reach above an entry-level role, compared to 9% of men. Meanwhile, almost a third of women (31%) think they’ve hit a glass ceiling within their organization.

Job Level Expected to Reach During Career Men Women
Company Owner 7% 6%
Senior Management (CEO, CFO, CTO, etc.) 6% 4%
Vice President 4% 2%
Director 12% 10%
Manager 30% 27%
Professional/technical role 33% 26%
Entry level 9% 25%

The differences in expectations extend to salary. More than a third of women (35%) don’t expect to reach a salary over $50,000 during their career, compared to 17% of men, while roughly half of men (47 %) expect to reach a six-figure salary, compared to 22% of women.
Women also tend to be less satisfied with opportunities for advancement at work.

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Only 34% of women are satisfied with career advancement opportunities at their current employer, compared to 44% of men, and 30% of women do not feel they have the same career advancement opportunities as men who have the same skills and qualifications at their organization, compared to 12% of men. Women are also less likely to be satisfied with training and learning opportunities at their employer than men (43% to 55%, respectively).

Survey Findings—Employer Perspective

The overwhelming majority of employers (94%) think there should be equality of pay in the U.S., but when acting on it, employers may be less sure. More than one in 10 (15%) employers say they do not believe female workers make the same wage as their male counterparts at their organization. Half of HR managers think that female workers make the same wage as their male counterparts at their organization, and 35% say they would hope they do.
What about pay transparency, and discussions about pay? Eighty-two percent of employers say there should be transparency of pay in the U.S., and 42% of employers say that proposed legislation that prohibits employers from asking job candidates for their salary history will help close the gender pay gap since salary histories cannot be discussed.

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