wage-gap.jpg(UPDATE BELOW)

Yet another wage gap report is expected to be released today, this one from the White House, and yet again the numbers show that women are getting shorted. Yes, the overwhelming reason is society doesn’t deem women worthy yet, but we also deserve some of the blame gals.

Recently, I decided to pitch a story idea to a major publication so I contacted a woman who I was loosely connected with who had recently written a piece for the same outlet.

I asked her how the experience was and she emailed me a bunch of positive feedback — easy editing, nice editor, etc. But then I asked her the big question, “how much did you get paid?” I ask this question often, even from people I don’t know well. Why? Because I’m horribly curious and I don’t want to get screwed when it comes to pay. It’s something women tend to shy away from because god forbid we talk about money. We can talk about menstruating and our weight issues ad nauseam but finances? No way.

Given this fact, I wasn’t sure how she’d respond to my nosy email. To my surprise, she quickly fired back: “No, no payment, but I didn’t ask.”

My head almost exploded with rage, disappointment, and futility, but I held my tongue because maybe this was the deal at the publication. Maybe it was another stiff-writers website like Huffington Post, which I, I’m embarrassed to say, have written for before. So, I pitched my story, a short piece I had already written, to the editor and he accepted it. Then I asked “what do you pay?” I didn’t ask him if he paid, I just asked him what he paid.

I didn’t like his first offer and after a bit of negotiating he bumped the fee up a bit and I accepted the deal. It wasn’t a lot of money mind you, but it was enough to make it worth my time. I sat there wondering why this woman, fairly established in her profession, although not a journalist, would provide her work for free, and worst off, not even ask if she could be compensated.

This my friends is a gal thing. We do this. I’m not sure why. Many scholars have tried to answer this question and many have come up with the expected bologna regarding how women are nurturers, how we’ve been oppressed, yadda yadda yadda.

I’ve also written extensively on how women suck as negotiating. Here’s a link to a two-part series I did for MSNBC.com a while back. Here’s an excerpt:

Shellye Archambeau knows a lot about how much men and women make in corporate America, having been a top executive for more than two decades, running major businesses at companies such as IBM and Blockbuster.

She definitely noticed a disparity in pay between men and women, but she also noticed something else over the years: Few women she supervised came a knocking on her door demanding more money. The men, on the other hand, were more likely to squawk for a fatter paycheck.

“It started to surprise me that many males on my team would stop by and have a conversation with me about their financial needs and expectations. Throughout my career I only had one woman actually come and talk about her financial needs during raise time. When people came, it was the men,” says Archambeau, who is now CEO of software company MetricStream Inc.

Could it be that women are partly to blame for the persistent pay gap between males and females in the work force? Are many of us lame negotiators, afraid to toot our own horns and bring up the taboo subject of money?

Archambeau thinks so.

“I don’t believe there’s a conspiracy out there with a group of male executives saying, ‘We’re going to pay women less in this company,’” she explains. She believes the squeaky wheels at pay raise time, which are often the men, get a few percentage points more than women who don’t ask for more. Over time, she surmises, those few percentage points contribute to an eventual huge pay gap between the sexes.

I think the gap is not only one of our making; and is probably not the substantial reason for it. The bottom line though, is if we don’t start asking for what we deserve nothing is ever going to change, right?

I’ll update this blog later today when the White House data on the wage gap is released, but for now let’s turn the topic of the day from how many calories we had for lunch to how much more money should we be making.

(UPDATE: Here’s a copy of the report and some highlights:)

* Women have not only caught up with men in college attendance but younger women are now more likely than
younger men to have a college or a master’s degree. Women are also working more and the
number of women and men in the labor force has nearly equalized in recent years. As women’s
work has increased, their earnings constitute a growing share of family income.
* Yet, these gains in education and labor force involvement have not yet translated into wage and
income equity. At all levels of education, women earned about 75 percent of what their male
counterparts earned in 2009. In part because of these lower earnings and in part because
married and divorced women are the most likely to have responsibility for raising and
supporting their children, women are more likely to be in poverty than men. These economic
inequities are even more acute for women of color.

and…

The earnings gap between women and men has narrowed over time, but it remains. Among full-time
wage and salary workers, women’s weekly earnings as a percent of men’s have increased from 62 percent
in 1979 to 80 percent in 2009.

This comparison of earnings is on a broad level and does not control
for many factors that can be significant in explaining or further highlighting earnings differences.
As women’s earnings have risen, working wives’ contributions to their family incomes also have risen. In
2008, working wives contributed 29 percent of their families’ incomes, up by 5 percentage points from
1988, when wives’ earnings accounted for 24 percent of their families’ total incomes. The proportion
of wives earning more than their husbands also has grown. In 1988, 18 percent of working wives
whose husbands also worked earned more than their spouses; in 2008, the proportion was 27 percent.

Dual-earner couples made up 57 percent of all married-couple families in 2008, compared to 46
percent in 1970.

Working women spend their days somewhat differently than do working men. In 2009, on the days that
they worked, employed married women age 25–54 spent less time in labor market work and workrelated activities than did employed married men in the same age group—7 hours and 40 minutes,
compared to about 8 hours and 50 minutes. However, these employed wives spent about 40 minutes
more time than did their male counterparts doing household activities such as cooking, housework, and
household management.

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