Gen Z women expect to make $6,200 less than men after graduating

As the next generation of professionals starts to think about what their salary will look like post graduation, women are more likely to lowball themselves, a new report finds.

The impacts of the gender pay gap are felt even before women enter the workforce, according to Handshake, a career platform for college students. Their latest Gen Z salary transparency report found that, after surveying 1,853 Gen Z jobseekers, women expect a $6,200 lower average salary compared to men.

Handshake’s chief legal officer, Valerie Capers Workman, says that she’s shocked that this is still an issue in today’s workforce.

“I was surprised that women are still asking for less money and have lower salary expectations,” Workman tells CNBC Make It.

“I thought somehow, the lessons that the women who are succeeding and are successful have been trying to communicate [were being heard], but there are such societal issues that we are combating that we just haven’t conquered yet. So to see that this is still an issue today … It was disheartening. Quite frankly, it was sad.”

Though women have historically been paid less than men, the gap has narrowed significantly since 1960. Back then, women made 61 cents for every dollar men made — now, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, women make an average of 83 cents for every dollar earned by men, but progress toward shrinking the gender pay gap has stalled during the last 15 years. 

Working moms also make significantly less than that, according to a recent study by the National Women’s Law Center. On average, mothers are paid 58 cents for every dollar dads earn. What’s more, for every dollar paid to white dads, Black, Native American, and Latina moms earn 52 cents, 49 cents, and 47 cents, respectively.

Not only does Handshake’s report expose the “notable gaps in expectation for what’s achievable in a starting salary,” but it also shows why pay transparency is a necessity.

“If a woman comes out of college and does not know what she should be asking for, pay transparency laws remove that stigma of feeling not worthy of negotiation,” Workman explains.

“It eliminates bias throughout the employment life cycle [and allows] candidates to start on an even playing field, then the company doesn’t have to pay all this money for outside parties to try and determine whether or not there is equity amongst their employee population. Because they started everybody at the correct salary.”

Several states, cities, and counties across the country have already passed legislation making salary transparency a requirement, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, Rhode Island, Washington and New York City.

And with companies’ diversity efforts hanging in the balance, Workman says this is the perfect opportunity for organizations to show their support for women.

“Companies are wrestling with DEI right now, [asking] how do we do diversity, equity, inclusion, and even belonging the right way? And some of it is really hard. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, but some of it’s easy. So do the easy first, and the easy is posting the salary. You can eliminate so much bias, so much inequity just by letting women know what the range is. Let’s not wait for legislation. Let’s just do it.”

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