Women in Tech

What Equal Pay Legislation Means for You

Last week, President Obama signed into law an executive order which is an attempt to level the playing field in relation to the gender gap in compensation. Citing Census Bureau figures (pdf) showing that women who work full-time earn 77% of what men earned in 2012, the directive, titled Expanding Opportunity for All, prohibits retaliation against federal contractors who choose to discuss their pay.

In addition to the executive order, the President also instructed the Labor Department to write rules requiring federal contractors to provide salary data based on race and gender. The timing of the executive order comes on “Equal Pay Day,” a date symbolically chosen due to the fact that a woman who worked in 2013 has to work this far into 2014 to catch up to a man’s end-of-year earnings. “That’s not fair,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s like adding another six miles to a marathon . . .  America should be a level playing field, a fair race for everybody.”

Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

So, what does this mean for you? Well, unless you are a federal employee, it doesn’t mandate change at your workplace, and its impact is unlikely to be immediately felt across the broader American workforce. However, as many federal contractors comply, other companies may likely take note and follow suit, providing for broader impact of the legislation.

In the technology industry, the Census data shows the differential between men’s and women’s pay at 93%, rather than 77%. Some recent articles even say that the gap is non-existent. A study conducted by Dice.com shows that when adjusted for education level, experience, and job title – men and women make the same amounts.

According to Holly Copeland, Director of the Office of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, & Technology for the State of Illinois, “Change is an incremental process.  As stewards of a society whose legacy will impact our daughters and sons in subsequent generations, we have a shared obligation to create a new reality. We must commit ourselves over the long-term to educate, empower, & encourage our young girls and women to pursue technology careers while parallel efforts are made to advance the pay equity dialogue. Men and women alike, across all sectors, in all communities, should engage their networks on the issue of pay equity. Equal pay for equal work is not only fair, it’s common sense.”

So, while it seems progress is being made at the political level to minimize the pay gap for women, technology seems to be one area in which women’s compensation is comparable to that of men. All of this is compelling evidence for our team at ARA – making it even more important to attract, retain and advance women in technology.