The Pay Gap is Real – And What You Should Do About It

By: Lauren E. Creamer, Senior CO-OP + CAREER Advisor

By now you’ve heard about the “Gender Pay Gap” – it’s been all over the news these last few months. I don’t see it going away anytime soon, either. But just to catch everyone up, let’s define the gap. According to the American Association for University Women (AAUW), “the gender pay gap is the difference between what men and women are typically paid”. Research shows that this difference exists across all demographics, workplaces, and education levels.

Pay Gap Statistics

In 2016 women in the United States were paid 80% of what men made. In Massachusetts, we were right on par with the national average clocking in at 80-84%. If you break it down for Boston, specifically, women were making 87.1% of men’s earnings, and women made 94.1% in Somerville/Cambridge.

You might be thinking… the numbers aren’t so bad here! But look at it like this: The National Women’s Law Center estimated that a single woman in Massachusetts, in a 40-year career, would lose $416,720 when compared to a white man. That is too much money to leave on the table.

The Breakdown

If you take into account racial/ethnic groups, the numbers are even more alarming. Black women made 63 cents on the dollar, and Latina women made a staggering 54 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. Asian women made slightly more than the national average at 87%, but the gap is still there.

If you look at the data from the National Women’s Law Center again, native American women in Massachusetts would lose just shy of $1,000,000, black women over $1,000,000, and Latina women would lose more than 1.3 million. Women of color are also less likely to have access to things like paid sick and family leave and flexible work schedules, all of which compound the systemic economic hurdles they face.

Factors that Contribute to the Gap

In April of 2016, the Democratic staff of the congressional Joint Economic Committee published a report highlighting the gender pay gap and the ramifications it has on the American economy. They outlined eight separate factors that play into the gap:

  • Women are more likely than men to interrupt their careers to care for children
  • Working mothers often pay a “mommy penalty” (when compared to women who don’t have children)
  • Women are more likely than men to be primary caregivers of other family members (aside from children)
  • Women who are forced to work part-time earn less (to balance family demands)
  • Women often work in occupations that pay less
  • Women are underrepresented in positions of leadership
  • Some women still do not receive equal pay for equal work (when all other factors are considered)

The final factor is perhaps the most troubling:

“After taking into account differences in observable factors such as education, field of study, occupation and experience, multiple studies have estimated that there is an unaccounted for gap between women’s and men’s average earnings of 5 to 9 percent. In other words, as much as 40 percent of the overall gender pay gap cannot be explained by factors that would affect earnings and may be due to discrimination”.

So, what can we do? What can you do?

On a legislative level, you can reach out to your elected officials and demand their support for pay equity. On an individual level, you can arm yourself with a negotiation education. You must remember: it is in your power to tip the scales. Always, always negotiate.

Steps to Negotiate

Salary.com found that 84% of employers expect prospective employees to negotiate salary during the interview stage. Yet only 30% of women bother to negotiate at all, while 46% of men negotiate, according to Forbes. There are many reasons why people choose not to negotiate: fear of conflict, feeling “under-qualified”, simply not realizing there is extra money available, and feeling gratitude for “just getting in the door”, to name a few.

In 2015 the AAUW joined forces with the City of Boston to train and empower 85,000 women by 2021 to close the gender pay gap. Dozens of free salary negotiation workshops are available every year across the city. The core tenants of their program are: knowing your value, benchmarking salary and benefits, knowing your strategy, and PRACTICING! The unknown has the potential to be scary – but with practice, the unknown becomes familiar and easier to navigate. Just like you would do a mock interview to prepare for a real interview, practicing the negotiation conversation can be a phenomenal tactic for success.

And, when in doubt, visit your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor for guidance and coaching. We are always happy to help!

Want to learn more about pay equity and the gender pay gap? Check out these great resources:

AAUW: https://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

Institute for Women’s Policy Research: https://iwpr.org/issue/employment-education-economic-change/pay-equity-discrimination/

Pew Research Center: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/01/racial-gender-wage-gaps-persist-in-u-s-despite-some-progress/

Joint Economic Committee: https://www.jec.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/0779dc2f-4a4e-4386-b847-9ae919735acc/gender-pay-inequality—-us-congress-joint-economic-committee.pdf

Sources:

https://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

https://www.aauw.org/resource/gender-pay-gap-by-state-and-congressional-district/

https://www.aauw.org/aauw_check/pdf_download/show_pdf.php?file=Gender_Pay_Gap_Massachusetts

https://nwlc.org/resources/the-lifetime-wage-gap-state-by-state/

https://iwpr.org/issue/employment-education-economic-change/pay-equity-discrimination/

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/01/racial-gender-wage-gaps-persist-in-u-s-despite-some-progress/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/no-the-gender-pay-gap-isnt-a-myth-and-heres-why_us_5703cb8de4b0a06d5806e03f

https://www.salary.com/salary-negotiation-separating-fact-from-fiction/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/07/13/why-dont-more-women-negotiate/#2479baa5e769

Choosing An Employer

By: Jason Gregoricus

A corporate employer or start up? Which is the right fit?

Larger corporations typically offer stability, regular hours, better pay, clearly defined roles and well-established support. Start-ups, on the other hand, tend to be more flexible about work hours, often require their employees to wear multiple hats and usually demand more creativity as a result.

Which one fits best for you is an important question. Let’s look at each in kind.

Large Corporations: They’re large because they’ve figured out what works in the marketplace and have grown because of it. So, when a company grows it usually compartmentalizes the work of various departments with clearly defined roles within them. Therefore, when you’re hired, you’ll know what is expected of you and how to grow within the company. (Relatedly, there are usually robus benefit packages – health, retirement, etc. – as well.)

Additionally, larger corporations usually prefer to hire from within – it’s convenient and less expensive than taking the administrative time to recruit/interview/hire. In the end, it’s all about relationships. People hire other people they know and like. Therefore, if you work for a company and would like to try something new, the chances of advancement and change are greater.

However, there are downsides. First, large corporations are usually not nimble. Change moves slowly – if at all – and when it does happen the process can be maddeningly slow. In larger organizations there are usually many stakeholders for every decision and idea. Therefore, the time it takes to implement those changes/ideas is exponentially proportional to the number of people it will affect. So, if you’re an impatient person, then the corporate atmosphere may not be right.
Start Ups: Conversely, working for a start up does have its perks.

First, start-ups are typically very exciting places to work. They often have a dynamic workforce and a swashbuckling energy that makes every day go by quickly. As a result you may find yourself taking on several different (read “seemingly unrelated”) aspects of the business. It is not uncommon with a small start up for a recent hire to handle shipping, sales and market research all in one week. The benefit of such a situation is that it allows a person to explore what they’re good at, and what they enjoy less.

Concurrently, in a small organization it is much easier to shine as all your contributions are obvious to everyone. Therefore, a start up could help you gain confidence, self-knowledge and a strong reputation. Conversely, however, the challenges at a small start up can be numerous.

First, the benefits may not be all that great. Start ups may allow you flexible hours – but incredibly long ones as well. Also, with some exceptions, they are operating with razor thin margins. Therefore retirement packages, vacation times, health insurance options all may be less than ideal – or not on offer at all. This can be compounded by the fact that many start up don’t have anyone working in human resources. So your options for support become even that much more limited.

Second, if you make a big mistake at a company it can have huge repercussions. Everyone knowing you did great is, well, great – but the other side of the coin is the public recognition of mistakes. It never feels good when the majority of your coworkers all know when you’ve made one.

So, in the end, where you choose to work will be decided by where you feel the most comfortable. But keep this in mind! Everything is fixable. Everyone who has worked long enough in the world has a story about a bad job or workplace situation. Just because you don’t fit in, or a job is not what you wanted or thought going in, there will always be another chance on the horizon.

So keep your head up and soldier on! Big or small, comfortable or nimble. Over time you will learn what works for you and that will be the right thing

Networking: Keeping a cool head when you think you might just sweat through your shirt.

By: Jer Jurma

Even the idea of networking can be intimidating to students as they begin their co-op or job searches. In fact, speaking the word networking can bring on a cold sweat to the introvert in us all, but it is important to realize that as human beings, we network every day through sharing information about ourselves and asking questions about others.

Extroverted or introverted, networking is vital in finding a Co-op or job, and realistically, it is a vital part of life as a professional. The next five points are important to keep in mind when approaching the act of networking. You can adjust them to fit your own personality as you see fit:

1. Keep it real. Engage people with genuine interest, ask questions, and listen intently.

2. Find commonalities and actively think about how your goals and the values of the individual and his or her company/firm align.

3. If you are nervous about networking, think of it as a professional exercise assigned to you as a student. Be confident in the fact that you are a representative of Wentworth, and by promoting your school and academic program, you in turn will be promoting yourself in a way that is team oriented.

4. Show enthusiasm and the desire to engage. A willingness to contribute to the causes and advancement of an organization can be established before a formal interview. The following statement (or one like it) is a good example of how to engage in networking:

“The work you do interests me, and is something I would like to pursue. I would really like to know about your career path, and how you got to where you are.”

5. Share your contact information and ask how best to reach out to continue your conversation in the future.

Get out there and see how it goes. Remember, networking takes practice…a lot of practice. You will learn from the interactions you have with people how best to adjust your approach.

 

Cover Letters: Why and How.

By: Caitlin Brison

Cover letters…does anyone actually read these? Why, yes! Many do! While we cannot predict which hiring managers read cover letters and which do not, we do know for certain that those that read them really care! Hiring managers like a competitive application and most of them will read your cover letter after browsing your resume. So…when in doubt, write a cover letter.

Plain and simple, cover letters get interviews. They tell the reader, “Hey! I think it’s a superb idea that you call me in for an interview because I have read the job description, researched your company, and thought about how my education, experience, strengths and skills could contribute to all the super cool things you are doing.” Who wouldn’t want to talk more to that candidate? It shows you care – and they care that you care. Make sense?

If you’re still unsure, read through these top 10 tips and maybe it’ll make more sense:

1. Don’t restate your resume. They already read that.
2. You’re not bragging, you’re stating the facts. You’re a student at Wentworth, you must be really good at a few things. What are they? And you’re probably curious to learn more about other things, so talk about that, too.
3. Tell a story! Have you always dreamed of working here? Have you worked really hard to get to where you are? Do you spend your free time doing similar things? Stories draw readers in and build connections.
4. Highlight your strengths! (Extra points for using the job description to see what they’re looking for) Did your group projects or summer jobs teach you something about collaboration, communication, and organization? Perfect! Tell me more.
5. Be honest, but don’t apologize for a lack of experience. We all start somewhere and it’s ok to not have every skill they want. No need to inflate or deflate! Speak truthfully about your strengths and how you plan to develop more.
6. Be professional, not necessarily formal. This is certainly an opportunity to showcase your ability to write professionally and maturely, but show some personality! Avoid sterile and stuffy language.
7. Show….and sometimes tell! Instead of writing, “I am a good problem solver,” you can write, “I prefer to approach obstacles with a positive attitude as I have found that persistence and creative thinking usually prevail. My professors have commended me for my curiosity and dedication to acquiring and applying new knowledge when confronted with a problem to be solved.”
8. Make it targeted, not generic! Hiring managers can smell this a mile away. And they don’t like it. Use the job description to write the letter. No need to start from scratch each time, but always tailor it to the job description.
9. Format. There is a set framework for cover letters. It’s best to follow it. Be creative with the content, not format.
10. Edit! Read and re-read before you submit. Your advisor can read it! A friend can, too!

A well-crafted cover letter is your golden ticket to an interview. Write and submit them as often as you can! The more you write, the more interviews you get.

Find more tips here: https://wit.edu/coopsandcareers/cooperative-education/co-op-resources

Schedule an appointment with your advisor to review your resume and cover letters by stopping by the front desk or calling 617 989 4101.