Experiment Finds More Data Doesn't Always Help Wage Gap

'Knowing this information doesn’t make it easier to advocate for myself'
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2017 5:04 PM CDT

(Newser) – For Jessica Kirkpatrick, an astrophysicist-turned-data-scientist, information helps bridge gaps. But when she tried to use it to narrow the gender wage gap in her new role as chief data scientist at Hired, she learned that more data isn't always helpful—and that's at least in part down to human behavior. As Quartz reports, after staging an experiment on the site that armed male and female applicants with a range of average salaries in their fields, the women put themselves on the lower half of the salary curve and the men with comparable skills and experiences put themselves on the upper half. Suddenly, women were asking for almost 10% less money than men; women in the control group who didn't see the salary range were actually asking for 4% more than their male counterparts.

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In hindsight, Kirkpatrick says the results aren't surprising. Women are historically less aggressive negotiators who play down their achievements, and what Hired calls the "expectation gap" for salary widens as the ratio of men to women in a role increases—and as a woman's length of time in the workforce increases. Hired found that women with less than five years of work experience are asking for higher salaries than men and receive 8% more in salary offers, but this trend reverses within six years. And, as Forbes notes, the inequities (including promotions) compound like interest over time. In a recent Hired blog post, the current trend suggests that at this rate, women won't receive equal pay for their work until the year 2152. (These teens were fired after noticing the wage gap between them.)

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