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Women need to lean in a lot harder—about $11,103.65 harder

Reuters/Mike Blake
Keep leaning.
  • Jenny Anderson
By Jenny Anderson

Senior reporter, Editor of How to be Human

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

The gender pay gap is stubborn, and real, and cause for plenty of debate. Is it because women hold themselves back, not “leaning in” enough; or is it discrimination, unconscious bias, and heavy glass ceilings that are causing the discrepancy?

Ziprecruiter, a company that lets employers post job listings across multiple job boards in the US, tried to quantify how women view their own worth in the workplace. It picked 400,000 job seekers from its site and divided them by gender. It then compared application rates and desired salaries by both region and industry. It found that men wanted to be paid more than women—on average, $11,103.65 more.

The most dramatic gap was in law, where men wanted $20,531 more than women. In education, a field dominated by women, men asked for $13,770 more. The biggest gaps, aside from those, were in industrial goods and services, engineering, and business as a whole. Only in real estate, food & beverages, and personal care did women ask for more. 

“Because our data comes from self-reported desired salaries, and not actual salaries, we have insight into the value women place on their own work, rather than the dollar amount the marketplace puts on it,” said a release accompanying the data.

Self-reported salaries can be hugely flawed. Men tend to overestimate their abilities and their worth, and women often underestimate. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg highlighted this in her book Lean In, and in a TED talk when she said that, even if you ask men and women questions about objective criteria like their own grade point averages, ”men get it wrong slightly high, and women get it wrong slightly low.” She cited recent research showing that 57% of men entering the workforce for the first time negotiated their salary with their employer, compared to only 7% of women. 

Things are getting better—sort of. Research conducted in 2013-14 by Cass Business School (pdf) showed that women asked for raises just as often as men. But they were still less likely to get them.

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