For graduating seniors, starting salaries are an all-too-common concern, but for soon-to-be alumnae, figuring out next year’s salary may be a little more stressful than for our male counterparts.

From Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech on the gender wage gap to the recent controversial ruling against Ellen Pao in her gender discrimination lawsuit, women’s rights in the workplace have been a hot topic in the last few months. And rightly so. Today, women make 78 cents for every dollar a man earns, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

The median weekly earnings for American female doctors working full-time is $1,497 versus $2,087 for men. Women in architecture and engineering earn 83.7 cents to a man’s dollar. The gender pay gap stretches across almost every industry. Even in nursing, a profession where women outnumber men 10 to one, men out-earn women by nearly $7,700 per year in outpatient settings and nearly $3,900 in hospitals. From blue-collar to white-collar jobs, women aren’t getting equal pay for equal work.

While the world these days tells us to “lean in,” it isn’t all that simple.

The wage gap stems not only from the persistent underestimation and under appreciation of women’s contributions in the workplace, but also from stigma surrounding salary negotiations.

Even if a woman knows her worth, negotiating a salary can come with a cost. For years, studies on salary negotiation have shown that the social cost of negotiating for higher pay is greater for women than it is for men. Before we chime in to criticize women for not “leaning in,” we must recognize that women’s hesitancy to ask for a raise often stems from an intuitive sense of the risks.

But the burden of advocating for equal pay should not be shouldered by women alone.

We can start by recognizing women’s worth in the workplace. According to popular gender stereotypes, when men are assertive, they are often called “leaders.” When women do the same, they risk being labeled “bossy” or “pushy.” Men are expected to be ruthless and women nurturing. Because we expect women to fulfill the “mother hen” role, we are less likely to reward them for being a team player.

A recent study by New York University psychologist Madeline Heilman found that male employees were continually viewed more favorably than women when giving the same help to a colleague. As Sheryl Sandberg recently noted in The New York Times, this means that women “do the lion’s share of office housework” — with little recognition. It’s time to acknowledge the contributions of women and compensate them fairly. Men can help by volunteering to take over some of the group tasks. By doing so, we can give women more opportunities to have their voices more fully heard.

Ellen Pao, interim CEO of Reddit, has a rather innovative idea for the private sector: eliminate the salary negotiation process entirely. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Pao noted that “men negotiate harder than women do and sometimes women get penalized when they do negotiate.” Most government jobs have fixed salaries based on title and years of experience. Because these salary rates are public information, workers can easily compare pay, reducing the likelihood that bias will impact compensation. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the wage gap is considerably smaller in the public sector. According to the Office of Personnel Management, between 1992 and 2012, the gender pay gap for public sector workers fell from 30 percent to 13 percent for white-collar workers and 11 percent for General Schedule workers.

Finally, we can more directly confront our unconscious biases. Everyone has them. Taking an Implicit Association Test will quickly disabuse you of the notion that you are the most forward-thinking, progressive person at work. And that’s okay — as long as you work at recognizing and correcting these preferences. Google is a great example of a company at the forefront of this movement in the tech industry. Google made efforts to encourage its employees to confront their biases with the hope that that awareness could help level the playing field.

Today, women make up the majority of college graduates and hold the majority of management and professional positions, but according to the World Economic Forum, I’ll be 102 years old by the time the gender wage gap closes in the United States. While laws like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 are a good first step towards equal pay, they clearly aren’t the only solution. In order to make sure women are recognized for the vital role they play in the home and the workplace, we must confront the problem at hand.

Kiki Ochieng is a senior in Timothy Dwight College. She is a co-organizer of Equal Pay Day Discounts at Yale. Contact her at .

  • 11wordsummaries

    Women don’t have agency to negotiate. Everyone is biased (this column?)

  • Hieronymus Machine

    “Taking an Implicit Association Test will quickly disabuse you of the notion that you are the most forward-thinking, progressive person at work.”

    The Cantab Soc ABD PhD overseeing my test(s) made me take some twice: given *her* assms, she could not accept my negligible scores. In the end, the test did uncover a certain, uh, negative preference re: persons of size, about which I could have told her.

    aaAA-nyway: As reported in Time, according to a 2010 analysis of 2,000 communities, in 147 out of 150 of the biggest cities in the U.S., the median full-time salaries of young women are 8% higher than those of the men in their peer group. In two cities, Atlanta and Memphis, those women are making about 20% more…. So… you young Yalies are good! I mean, if you cared about “median,” you wouldn’t be at Yale, am-I-right?

    Also from 2010, the AEJ pub’d a Cantab study examining gender diffs in the career dynamics of top MBAs. Immediately following MBA completion, elite male and female MBAs had nearly identical labor incomes and weekly hours worked. 10-15 years later? Not so much; why? Three proximate factors (1) a modest male pre-MBA advantage in training + compound returns thereto; (2) gender differences in career interruptions; and (3) growing differences in WEEKLY HOURS WORKED.

    My bud Magnus Carlsson did a lil study in Sveden; wha’dee find? Well, using registered data for childless/single recent college grads, he found that >76% of the 11% nominal gap is explained by pre-market factors, primarily area of education. Applying ceteris parabis, the unexplained gender pay difference ranged from 2.2% to 2.7%. BUT WAIT: Among jobs req’ing a degree, his results, If anything, indicate that female job applicants are preferred… Wowzers! Whodathunkit?

    Food for thought:
    “Equal Pay Day” is April 14; the next “Equal Death Day” (where male occupational fatalities catch up with female on-the-job deaths) will be on July 29, *2027*

    The NYTimes describes “an intractable obstacle for the online encyclopedia [Wikipedia]”: surveys suggest <15% of its bazillion editors are women…

    Lastly, a colleague of mine recently noted something akin to that "any area where women outperform men is now indicative of female superiority, whereas anything contrary indicates discrimination." Rock on!

  • sy

    There is no wage gap for women under 30. They earn slightly more than men under 30, because they get 57% of college degrees. Non-senior white men are paid more than women partly because they can be fired at any time for any reason without being able to sue or settle for $16 million, and split it with their attorney. The unanimous San Francisco jury decided otherwise for Pao and her attorney; usually there is a settlement. If you own a company,would you hire a man who just cleans out his desk and moves on, or hire yourself and get sued or settle a complaint for $ 2-16 million, plus attorney’s fees?

    • TheFacts

      Before you say that, you might want to read this AAUW study:

      • Hieronymus Machine

        Okay, I did. Note the headliner versus the subsequent white noise:

        HEADLINE: “Women one year out of college who were working full time were paid, on average, just ***82 percent*** of what their male peers were paid.” (Grr! Grr! Gnash! Gnash! Grind! Grind!)

        But… wait: “After we control for hours, occupation, college major, employment sector, and other factors associated with pay, the pay gap shrinks but does not disappear. About one-third of the gap cannot be explained by any of the factors commonly understood to affect earnings, indicating that other factors that are more difficult to identify—and likely more difficult to measure—contribute to the pay gap”

        “Math is hard”: 100 – 82 = 18; 18 ÷ 3 = 6 (that’s %-age pts, peeps).

        SoOOooo, even taking this AM. ASSOC. of UNIV. WOMEN(!) report at face freakin’ value the *real* headline is “Women were paid 94 percent of what their male counterparts were paid one year out of college.”

        But that don’t sell ’nuff Out-Rrraaaage, no suh.

        Further reading:

      • Hieronymus Machine

        I usually think of sales and commission-based pay, but I am reminded: “It is overwhelmingly men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lines, cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing the landscape for housing developments. It is men who heft and weld the giant steel beams that frame our office buildings, and it is men who do the hair-raising work of insetting and sealing the finely tempered plate-glass windows of skyscrapers 50 stories tall.” –radical lesbian feminist Camille Paglia

        “(I)t is not possible now, and doubtless will never be possible, to determine reliably whether any portion of the observed gender wage gap is not attributable to factors that compensate women and men differently on socially acceptable bases, and hence can confidently be attributed to overt discrimination against women.”

        –radical leftist, whoops, CONSAD report, which study makes clear that uncontrolled-for factors could shrink the gap to nearly nothing and expresses doubt that legislation can address any existing gap.

        Further reading:

  • Doug

    It’s hard to believe that Miss Ochieng is a senior at Yale, since her column is full of widely known inaccuracies. To start with, the $.78 figure has been widely discredited because it compares apples to oranges. Even the liberal Washington Post gave that claim two Pinocchios. If you compare apples to apples, and look at what men and women with the same education, experience, job responsibilities, and hours make, it’s pretty close. If you look at recent college graduates, women make more than men. What about the Pao case, since Miss Ochieng brings it up? Well, in that case a jury of 12 men and women found there was no discrimination against Pao. Pao didn’t make senior partner – just as most men at Kleiner don’t make senior partner, either – because she wasn’t good enough.

    • TheFacts

      If you notice, she didn’t say that Ms. Pao’s case was decided poorly – she just said that it stirred up some controversy about women in the workplace. Try reading more carefully.

      • Guest

        “I’m not touching you! I’m not touching you!”

        Cut from the same cloth

      • Doug

        Why did she bring the Pao case up if she didn’t think it illustrated her claim that women face discrimination in the workplace? Just to illustrate the brilliant job that Kleiner’s female attorney did in destroying Pao’s credibility?

    • TheFacts

      Might want to also take a look at this study to get your facts straight:

  • 100wattlightbulb

    Those hateful white males. If only they hadn’t founded this hateful country.

    This should not have been removed. Can’t take a little sarcasm?

  • Guest

    Because “men negotiate harder than women do” we should eliminate salary negotiations?

    Say WHA’?

  • Guest

    Stealing this from another’s post elsewhere: National hiring experiments reveal 2:1 faculty preference for women on STEM tenure track

    A woman applying for a tenure-track faculty position in STEM at a U.S. university is twice as likely to be hired as an equally qualified man, if both candidates are highly qualified, says o a new study. [‘d make sense if’n they wuz cheaper, I s’pose… /s]