President Obama officially declared Tuesday National Equal Pay Day—the date symbolically marking how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned the previous year.
In a statement, the White House said ” Women—who make up nearly half of our nation’s workforce—face a pay gap that means they earn 23% less on average than men do.”
Making matters worse, a new survey shows women aren’t making their case in the workplace either.
A new iVillage study found only 35% of the 1500 women surveyed have ever asked for a raise. Less than one in five have ever asked for a promotion. What’s behind the apparent inability for women to speak up at work?
“Ninety-one percent of the women in our survey defined career success as job security,” said iVillage Chief Correspondent Kelly Wallace on Jansing & Co., “So if you have women feeling like, ‘I’m just happy I have a job,’ they’re worried to go to the boss and say, ‘I want a raise, I want a promotion.’ They might be worried it might rock the boat and they might lose their job.”
“Too many women feel like if they ask for more, they could be penalized,”said Wallace.
The results of the survey speak directly to the recent debate over Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book “Lean In” that says women have held themselves back in their careers.
“I think it goes back to the value proposition and women not fully understanding what it is they fully bring to the table,” said Tanisha Sykes, senior editor at Essence. “You really do have to step up and advocate for yourself. I always tell the Essence reader, ‘If you don’t ask for the ask, you don’t get to the get.’
With more and more families relying on a woman’s paycheck, the salary disparity between men and women can have a major impact on a family’s income.
“Seventy-two percent of women in our survey are making 50 to 100% of the income,” Wallace said. “This isn’t just shopping money for some, this is real money. If they’re not advocating for themselves, they’re not getting enough money as they can have for their household.”