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As Women Progress Up the Corporate Hierarchy, the Gender Pay Gap Noticeably Widens

Female executives at the largest global corporations have surmounted numerous challenges to reach the pinnacle of their careers, overcoming issues like workplace harassment, gender-based biases, and limited promotion opportunities. However, the persistent obstacle they face is the gender pay gap.

As per the 2024 Gender Pay Gap Report by Payscale, a provider of compensation data, software, and services, women, on average, earn 83 cents for every dollar earned by men. Interestingly, as they advance up the corporate hierarchy, the pay gap exacerbates. Women in managerial and supervisory roles earn 83 cents, directors receive 82 cents, and executives are compensated with only 72 cents on the dollar.

Various factors contribute to the gender pay gap across all career levels, including disruptions like maternity leave, childcare responsibilities, and initial entry into the workforce at a lower wage. Ruth Thomas, a pay equity strategist at Payscale, notes that sometimes the persistence of the pay gap can be traced back to biases or negotiation challenges affecting their initial salary at the commencement of their careers, which they carry with them throughout their professional journeys.

However, the gender pay gap at the executive level is also influenced by the gendered nature of top roles within the C-suite. Ruth Thomas explains, “You have functions, for example, such as marketing and HR, that are typically female-gendered historically. We will see in our market data it’s not uncommon to see the head of marketing pay to be very different from, say, the head of finance pay.”

Regarding the salaries of women outside the C-suite, those contemplating a change of jobs may find it beneficial for boosting their earnings. Women considering job transitions within the next six months earn 84 cents on the dollar, compared to those staying in their current positions, who earn 80 cents on the dollar. Ruth Thomas points out, “What we see is that employer loyalty backfires on women, and actually exacerbates the pay gap. So women who are potentially more mobile, more willing to consider other job opportunities, or who have moved and are ready to move again during the Great Resignation, have probably benefited from the wage inflation that occurred during that period.”

However, not everyone has the freedom to continually search for employment elsewhere. Certain women might be remaining with their current company due to health care benefits or flexible working schedules, a choice that provides fewer chances for career progression. Generally, women are more prone to experiencing career stagnation and prolonged periods in lower-level positions.

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