Wait, the wage gap WIDENS as women get promoted? Wait, WHAT?

We all know about the gender gap —  how women get only 70-something cents to every dollar a man makes. This has partially to do with the high volume of women in “caretaking” positions, such as education and social work, and low volume in higher-paying tech positions. Also, very few women are in high-paying leadership roles such as CEOs. However, some recent research is not only incredibly disappointing, but baffling: As women are promoted, the pay gap actually widens.

According to a recent report by PayScale entitled “Inside The Gender Pay Gap,” as women move up the career scale, the disparity between how much they make and how much a man would make in the same position just gets more and more extreme.

That 70-something cents figure we always hear about is called the “uncontrolled” pay gap. It’s calculated by taking the average of what all women earn and comparing it to the average of what all men earn. And those who don’t believe in the pay gap often use this argument, claiming that it’s not taking various factors into account. These people are missing the point entirely, not understanding that the fact that woman aren’t in high-paying positions is part of the problem as well.

However, according to PayScale’s research, the “controlled” pay gap exists too — women earn an average of 2.7% less than men working in the same job. Yes, a considerably smaller number, but still a problem — and one that gets bigger and bigger as you move up the corporate ladder. For example, a woman working at a company could make 2.2% less than a man working at a company in the same “individual contributor” position. But when she is promoted to manager or supervisor, that percent jumps to 3.1%. Director: 4.9%. And executive? A whopping 6.1%.

As Harvard Business Review explains, there are multiple reasons this could be happening. For one, women are four times less likely to ask for a pay raise and ask for 30% less than men do — likely because the “social cost” of a woman asking for a raise is higher, as an earlier HBR report notes:

The PayScale report also found that women can get higher salaries if they get “leadership training” — but that this also helps men, and the amount to which it helps men is considerably higher. Although leadership training helps women get paid more money, it actually technically widens the gap in this way. The same applies to having strong professional role models.

Another incredibly disappointing discovery: Working mothers experienced all these problems most of all. It’s sadly unsurprising that working fathers make more than working mothers in the same position; however, the more a working mother reported to Payscale that she prioritizes family over work, the more the gap widened. . . and this is in comparison to working fathers who reported the same thing.

The wage gap is real, and these new findings prove how truly insidious and complex of an issue it is. As PayScale notes in its report:

For more information, you can read the PayScale report in its entirety here.

(Image via Shutterstock.)

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