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How COVID-19 may be affecting women’s pay in 2021

Data from Glassdoor shows that pay equity is still a goal to strive for, as fewer women received raises, asked for pay raises or negotiated higher salaries during the pandemic.


Image: iStock/Fokusiert

A recent survey of U.S. workers performed for Glassdoor finds that pay equity advances made before the COVID-19 pandemic may be in danger of stalling out, with fewer women reporting raises during 2020, and 19% less reporting they plan to ask for a pay increase this year.

“A year into the pandemic, we’re only beginning to understand the full implications of the last year on the workplace and pay,” said Glassdoor’s chief economist, Andrew Chamberlain. He added that taboos around negotiating pay are a major cause of women leaving money on the table. 

“The work to ensure women are equally seeking out opportunities to advance and increase their pay at the same rate as their male counterparts is not only important for womens’ individual careers but to ensure we don’t lose ground on closing the pay gap,” Chamberlain said. 

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Of those surveyed, 53% of men saying their pay changed in the past year, with more reporting a pay decrease than a raise. The same goes for women, 66% of whom experienced a change in pay during the pandemic period of March 2020 to March 2021, when the survey was performed. 

Asking for a raise, the study found, is more likely to come from men, with 59% of men planning to ask for a raise in the coming year to only 48% of women. Since March 2020 those numbers are even more split: 42% of men asked for a pay raise in 2020 to only 27% of women.

In addition to asking for a raise, men are more likely to be granted the request as well, at least in 2020: 27% of men who asked for a raise during the pandemic received one, while only 13% of women said the same. Fifty-eight percent of men said they didn’t ask for a raise during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 73% of women said they didn’t either. 

Salary negotiations as part of a job offer have similar splits, with only 29% of men saying they accepted the salary they were offered, while 33% of women accepted their initial pay proposal. In terms of negotiating successfully, the numbers are roughly the same: 14% of men said they got more money, and 12% of women said they did as well. Failure to get an initial pay bump was the same between the genders at 8%.

How to get a raise 

Discussing pay, a Glassdoor career expert, Alison Sullivan, said, is the best way to end up making more money, and the pandemic shouldn’t stop anyone, especially women, from asking for a pay increase. “Don’t shy away from discussing your pay during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you avoid talking about pay and miss out on opportunities to expand your earning potential now,  it can be more difficult to catch up when the economy starts to improve,” Sullivan said. 

SEE: Tableau business analytics: Tips and tricks (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Talking about pay can be tricky, so Glassdoor recommends three strategies to consider before taking the leap:

  • Build a case that includes comparing your pay rate to industry averages along with evidence of the positive impact you’ve brought to your organization.
  • Practice what you’re going to ask in the mirror or with friends. It can also be helpful to search online for salary scripts or other guides to asking for a raise to use as a jumping off point.
  • Find the right window of opportunity. An especially good time to ask for a raise is after you’ve been praised for doing a good job. Consider popping the question after a successful project or a positive performance review.

Also see

This post was written by and was first posted to TechRepublic

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