How much money do you make? It's a blunt question, but it's one that we should be allowed to ask our colleagues.
The Gender Wage Gap
In 2015, women made 79.6 cents to every dollar paid to their male counterparts. What causes the gender wage gap? It's complex issue, with the major reasons being that:
Men tend to work longer hours
Women usually gravitate towards industries that are lower-paying
Women are more likely to temporarily or permanently leave the workforce to care for children
Women are less likely to aggressively negotiate their salary, if at all
Discrimination and gender bias exist against women
To decrease the wage gap, I think women would be most willing to better negotiate for fair and equal pay. This, however, is nearly impossible if they don't know how much money their coworkers are making.
The problem is that many employers have a pay secrecy policy, which forbid employees from discussing their salary with coworkers. In the United States, about half of all employees report they are contractually forbidden or strongly discouraged from disclosing their salary to colleagues.
Pay secrecy policies are more common in the private sector than the public sector. This is mainly because Obama issued an executive order in 2014, prohibiting Federal contractors and subcontractors from retaliating against employees that inquire about, discuss or disclose their compensation.
Advocate for Pay Transparency
This particular issue can only be addressed through policy change. As of 2017, 17 states passed laws prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees that talk about their salary. But more needs to be done to increase pay transparency at the organizational, state and federal levels.
As a woman or someone who cares about gender equality, it's your role to speak up. Start a conversation with your employer. Call, write or meet with your legislators. Demand for the right to ask the question - "how much do money do you make?"