According to the most recent PCMA salary survey, women—who comprised 86 percent of the survey-takers—still make 23 percent less than their male colleagues. Sigh.
Not surprisingly, when the topic came up during a livestreamed trends session at the 2016 PCMA Education Conference, held June 26–29 in St. Louis, my online group (I couldn't make there in person, doggone it) wanted to know why. Is it the glass ceiling? Childraising issues? What? As one person said, it’s not surprising that this industry reflects the overall salary gender gap in the U.S., “But I would hope this industry would work toward closing the gap.”
We didn’t get to any big answers on how exactly we can get that done, but, as one person said, “with the new exempt employees rules coming down, I think this will be a hot topic this year in all organizations.” I agree! (See 3 Things Meeting Professionals Should Know About the New Overtime Law for more on that topic.)
Probably the most fun comment was from one of the in-house groups, which reported that their discussion included asking if Hilary Clinton wins the election, will she make 77 percent of the salary President Obama makes?
During the discussion I remembered reading somewhere that one reason for the gender salary disparity in general is that women don't tend to negotiate starting salary and men do, especially at the beginning of their careers. When you start low, incremental raises along the way never do catch you up.
“Maybe women need coaching on how to negotiate their salaries then,” one person said. “I’m open to it.”
Well, here's a start: How to Negotiate the Salary You Deserve
One good idea one of the online group proposed was to know how your organization is doing financially throughout its fiscal year. “If your association isn't keeping members and the convention didn't raise enough money...it's not the time to ask for a raise. If the association is doing well, and you think you deserve a raise, prepare talking points on why you deserve the raise and don't forget to research how much others in your same type of position are making.”
What can we as an industry do to put this issue to bed once and for all?