Poll: Majority of Americans Believe Bias Responsible for Gender Pay Gap

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Most Americans believe bias is responsible for the gender pay gap, according to a recent poll conducted by the American Association of University Women.

That gap consists of women working full time only earning 80 cents, on average, for every dollar men make. Fifty-nine percent of those participating in the poll say the discrepancy in paychecks is more because of bias instead of the choices women make, and 75% believe men and women are treated differently when negotiating salaries.

“People of all ages, across all demographics, are well aware that women still face barriers and biases in the workplace,” said Kim Churches, chief executive officer of AAUW. “Most Americans find this unacceptable, and that’s why there is so much momentum toward policies and practices to close the gender pay gap.”

Among those changes is enacting the Paycheck Fairness Act, which the U.S. House of Representatives approved last month on a bipartisan 242 to 187 vote. The movement is also gaining traction on the state and municipal level, as 41 states have introduced legislation to bridge the pay gap. In April, Michigan state Rep. Kristy Pagan, D-Canton, introduced House Resolution 54 declaring April 2, 2019, as Pay Equity Day.

Although both men and women say the gender pay gap stems more from bias than individual choices, women are more likely to hold that belief (65% of women versus 53% of men), according to the poll, a national online survey of 1,004 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. Only 23% of Americans say the pay gap is the result of women’s choices.

Figures from the federal government strongly indicate that often women face negative consequences for personal choices than do their male counterparts. One example, according to U.S. Census labor data, women’s earnings decline after they have children, a phenomenon referred to as the “motherhood penalty.” Men, the figures indicate, don’t experience a drop in pay when they become fathers; in fact, many receive higher wages – the so-called “fatherhood bonus.”

Yet the poll found only 32% of Americans believe women’s pay decreases once they become mothers, and 22% thought men’s pay rose when they become fathers, despite the data showing otherwise.

“Given the national dialogue on equity issues in the workplace, I’m confident that we’re seeing a significant culture shift and that before too long, Equal Pay Day will be history,” said Churches.

Other findings from the poll:

  • 57% of Americans reported they have or would discuss their pay with co-workers. Salary transparency is thought to be key to closing the pay gap.
  • Millennials and members of Generation Z are more likely to talk about their salary with co-workers than those from older generations (68%, compared to 55% of Generation Z and 49% of baby boomers).
  • 51% of Americans have negotiated for higher pay, with men negotiating slightly more than women (54% compared to 47%).
  • Men are more confident in negotiating for salaries (61%) compared to women (53%).
  • 52 % of Americans believe men are given better access than women to the training, information and resources needed to negotiate their pay successfully.

AAUW’s Work Smart program is training millions of women to ask for higher pay and benefits. Work Smart is offered as both a free virtual course and in-person workshops. For more information visit salary.aauw.org/work-smart/.

 

 


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