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Gender Pay Gap Worse for Mothers, Women Working Remotely

woman looking at a paycheck by a laptop

As far as the gender pay gap, there’s good news and there’s bad news.

The good: There has been progress on narrowing pay gaps for women of color in the past year.

The bad: Overall, the U.S. gender pay gap for 2024 remains the same as last year, with women earning just 83 cents for every dollar earned by men.

These figures, which arrive in time for Equal Pay Day, come from Payscale’s recently released 2024 Gender Pay Gap Report. Equal Pay Day, which was started by the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996 to raise awareness about wage inequity, is a date that symbolizes how far into the new year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. This year, it falls on March 12.

Payscale’s analysis found that in 2024, the uncontrolled gender pay gap remains at 83 cents, meaning that women are employed in positions that collectively earn 17 percent less than men. When the data is controlled, or “equal pay for equal work” is examined for job title and qualifications, women make 99 cents for every dollar that men earn. The controlled gender pay gap is the amount that women earn for every dollar that a man earns when accounting for job title and compensable factors, while the uncontrolled gender pay gap is the difference in median pay for men and women overall, according to the Seattle-based compensation firm.

Since 2019, the uncontrolled gender pay gap has narrowed by 5 cents for Black women and American Indian and Alaska Native women, as well as by 4 cents for Hispanic women and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander women.

While that movement is helpful, it’s not especially encouraging overall, said Ruth Thomas, pay equity strategist at Payscale.

“The only small sign of progress is pay gaps for women of color are closing more rapidly than pay gaps overall, but this is partially because these pay gaps are wider to begin with,” she said. The data implies the need for “legislators and employers to take action to break this cycle of stalled pay gaps and speed up the historically slow progress towards gender equality.”

Meanwhile, the gap is even worse for women who work remotely (79 cents), compared to women who work in person (89 cents). It’s also worse for working mothers, with the report finding that working mothers make 75 cents for every dollar a working father earns, while women and men without children have a pay gap of 88 cents.

Furthermore, the gender pay gap widens as women climb the corporate ladder. Women at the executive level make just 72 cents compared to male executives when data is uncontrolled.

How Employers Can Help Close the Gap

One interesting finding from the Payscale report is that people who change jobs more frequently tend to increase their pay more rapidly in general—suggesting the gender pay gap narrows for women who are more willing to change jobs, rather than those choosing to stay. This data might be a warning for employers to beef up benefits to help women stay put.

“The reality is that many women feel more stuck with their employers due to benefits they can’t give up, such as a flexible work schedule, and may tolerate lower pay for these exchanges,” Thomas said. “Flexibility can be a game-changer and a key driver for equality in workplaces, as it can allow both women and men to combine work and other duties. Simple measures such as working remotely or flexible working times can make a large difference. But we have to remove bias and stigma around flexibility if we’re to realize its true potential and make workplaces more equal.”

In addition to embracing benefits such as flexible scheduling and remote work, what else should employers do? While some actions require a longer time to have effect, identifying the biases that lead to pay gaps is an easy place to start, Thomas said.

“Monitoring metrics for every time a pay decision is made, such as hiring or promotion, will allow you to identify gaps between your pay policies and how they actually come to life in your organization,” she said. “Ultimately demonstrating that your organization approaches pay in a fair and equitable way is about valuing your people and empowering people to realize their value.”


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