A new US study, Visier Insights™: Gender Equity, released this week introduced a new term to the lexicon of gender equity: the Manager Divide.
The study, which is based on an analysis of over 165,000 employee records from over 30 large US enterprises, found that the gender wage gap begins to widen at age 32. Up until this age, female workers earn 90 percent the wages of their male counterparts, but this percentage decreases to just 82 percent by age 40. At the same time, the data shows that women are underrepresented in managerial positions from this age onwards—a finding known as the manager divide.
Why does this disparity occur during this particular time?
Between the critical career advancement ages of 25 to 40 there is a notable and steady decline in the percent of women in the workforce -- meaning women are leaving the workforce at a higher rate than men during these years. This trend correlates to the childcare years: most women in the US who have children give birth to them between the ages of 25 and 34. With most children entering school (and, therefore, requiring less childcare) at age 5, women who have children are most likely to experience increased childcare demands up until the age of 39. These demands impact their careers.
Although significant progress has been made in employers proactively pursuing policies of equal pay for equal positions, this alone will not close the gap: gender equity is a complex and systemic issue that requires action on many fronts.
The study finds that eliminating the manager divide, which coincides with the years in which women typically have children, would cut the gender wage gap by nearly one-third. Furthermore, eliminating the manager divide and ensuring gender pay equity in manager positions would reduce the gender wage gap by almost one-half for workers over age 32.
There are a number of important steps employers can take to promoting the end of the manager divide and accelerate the closing of the gender wage gap:
● Implement the "Rooney Rule": for every manager position you have open to fill, consider “at least one woman and one underrepresented minority” in your slate of candidates.
● Implement blind screening, removing names (or other gender identifiers) from resumes when selecting candidates for interviews.
● Increase measurement and awareness of gender equity in the rollout or implementation of HR policies, including compensation policies.
Additionally, all of us—regardless of our role in our companies or communities—can work to eradicate the gender wage gap by:
● Supporting meaningful, paid parental leave that is equal for both men and women.
● Ensuring that it is socially acceptable for both men and women to take time off to care for their children.
● Supporting programs that increase the availability of quality, affordable childcare for all parents.
● Ensuring it is socially acceptable for both mothers and fathers to make use of flexible working time arrangements to care for children.
● Developing and supporting long-term programs—starting in grade school and continuing throughout high school and college and into the work years—aimed at removing the gender bias and social taboos associated with career choices: while it might take 10 or 20 years for these particular efforts to pay off, they are a key part of the solution for eradicating the gender wage gap.