Thursday, December 2, 2021

Eighteen Cents?

Ask the CFP

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“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ~Albert Einstein

Question: Since March is Women’s History Month, I was wondering, what is the pay gap difference between men and women? 

Answer: We’ve come a long way baby, but we still have some ground to cover to find pay equity. According to the American Association of University Women, in the United States, women working full time receive 82 cents to every dollar earned by men. It’s interesting that women now hold close to two-thirds of overall student debt as they outpace men in higher education. The pay gap not only makes it more difficult to pay the loans but can also lead to lower lifetime earnings and retirement resources. 


March 20, 2021 marks the first day of spring. March 24, 2021 is another important date; it marks the date into 2021 that women need to work through to earn what men did in 2020, known as Women’s Equal Pay Day.

Progress has been made, but not enough. The Equal Pay Today Campaign reports all women on average make 82 cents for every dollar a man makes. That means for a 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday schedule, women start working for free every day at 2:40 p.m. While the pay gap has narrowed from the 36-cent discrepancy that Pew Research Center reported in 1980, we still have work to do.

There are few things that can be compared readily in an apples-to-apples manner, and the pay gap is an example. Women and men often work in different jobs. Construction and manufacturing are typically male dominated, and health care and education tend to attract more women overall. What we try to evaluate is compensation based on similar skills and educational requirements. There are enough variables that each of us should evaluate our own situation.


Is your employer female-friendly?

Short of pay transparency, it can be difficult to know how your salary stacks up with colleagues and industry peers. There are sites like Fairygodboss and InHerSight that focus on sharing what women want to know about potential employers. Rated by women, they detail paid time off, flexible work hours, wellness initiatives, family growth support, management opportunities and sense of belonging. Monster and Glassdoor also publish a list of Top 50 Companies for Women that spotlight female-friendly workplaces. Additional resources are Working Mother and the National Association of Female Executives to learn about the types of support some companies provide female employees.

If you’re working for a small- or medium-sized business, there are some illuminating qualities of an equitable employer:

  • Generous maternity/family leave policies.
  • Flexible working practices.
  • High percentage of executives/board of directors are women.
  • Women-focused employee resource groups (ERGs).
  • Positive user-generated social media posts by women (you can see these by identifying the company’s branded hashtag, like #LifeAtShopify, for example).

While the expectation shouldn’t be on you to overcome the pay gap, some things may help you make the case for a higher salary. First, don’t be afraid to negotiate. Start by learning how much your responsibilities garner by doing research on sites like PayScale. Then compile a detailed list of accomplishments and how you’ve incorporated feedback from management into your daily work. Show that you are knowledgeable about your worth.

Second, don’t settle. Continue learning and evolving your skill set. Volunteer for promotable projects. According to Harvard Business Review, women tend to volunteer for non-promotable projects (think: organizing the holiday party or serving on the employee engagement committee) more frequently than men. So, before saying “yes”, consider if the task will impact the company’s bottom line or get you in front of a decision-making executive. And when something goes right, take credit appropriately. If you think you deserve a pay raise quantify your accomplishments, know your worth, and ask confidently for additional compensation. Then, when you do receive a salary increase, consult your advisor on how to re-budget responsibly. Stay focused and plan accordingly. 

Raymond James is not affiliated with any other entity listed herein.

The opinions expressed are those of the writer as of February 22, 2021, but not necessarily those of Raymond James and Associates, and subject to change at any time. Information contained in this report was received from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy is not guaranteed. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Every investor’s situation is unique, and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.

“Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.” 

This article provided by Darcie Guerin, CFP®, Vice President, Investments & Branch Manager of Raymond James & Associates, Inc. Member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC 606 Bald Eagle Dr. Suite 401, Marco Island, FL 34145. She may be reached at (239)389-1041, email Website:



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