“SHE DIDN’T ASK…” How employers get away with paying women less.

By Dorothy Miller (former Unemployment Adjudicator and

Job Service Area Supervisor)

  • When she was hired she (didn’t ask) did not attempt to negotiate for a higher starting wage. Therefore, when everyone got a 3% increase she got 3% of her present wage, which was lower. Or everyone got .25 which was added onto her lower wage, so it stayed lower.
  • When she did excellent performance, took on more duties, or got additional related training, SHE DIDN’T ASK for a raise. Men are more likely to ask for more.
  • Men will ask for an increase in pay because they need more. Example:

Man: My wife’s going to have a baby and I’ll need to make more. Employer: Yes, you are the head of the household and I want you to not look around for a different job.

Woman: I’m going to have a baby and would like a little time off. Employer: Of course, but we’ll have to train someone else to do your work so we’ll see what is available when you return.

  • Employers like to keep everyone’s wages a secret so they are able to pay as little as possible. They work hard with legislators and others to keep this a secret. There are laws that say they MUST pay men the same as women, BUT when they advertise a job opening they refuse to give a specific pay amount (except for union jobs). They will give a range of what the person hired will be paid “depending on experience and training”. They have to document their reasons for their choice in case they are sued. So they create wiggle room in the job duties that allows them to insert things that women find more difficult (if they want to). This is likely to include things like: frequent heavy lifting, irregular hours, nights away from home, etc.
  • Advancement within the business includes things like “gets along with customers better” which may mean he golfs with them or belongs to prominent men’s clubs.
  • There was a very recent court decision that employers could not use your wages from a previous job to determine your pay with them. It is still contentious and quite common.