Chrysalis Priority: Economic Empowerment and Wage Equity

Chrysalis Priority: Economic Empowerment and Wage Equity

Chrysalis includes economic empowerment as a core priority in our work. Among the issues involved in economic empowerment is the persistent gender pay gap; across the country it is estimated that women earn 82% of what men make for comparable work. Although the numbers in some states are worse (in Louisiana, it is less than 70%), the gender gap is a complex issue. For women of color, the earnings disparity is the largest.

Karen Madsen, a recognized women’s leadership scholar and professor at Utah State University, has separated the factors causing the wage gap into 3 categories: individual, organizational, and societal. In addition to bias (conscious or unconscious), discrimination, and sexism, here is how she explains these 3 categorizations:

INDIVIDUAL FACTORS include many noted by women in the workforce – motherhood penalty, career breaks, hours worked per week, unpaid care work, and tenure. Also included are negotiation skills, confidence levels, and the psychological glass ceiling. Check out this link:

Hiring managers are less likely to hire mothers than women?who don’t have kids, and when they do hire a mother, they offer her a lower salary. Men do not suffer a penalty when they become dads.

ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS can be commonplace in typically “male” occupations – culture, unequal standards, segregation, job assignments, and recruiting practices can disadvantage women. AAUW produced a report noting organizational practices and policies that have long served to prevent women from achieving equity.

SOCIETAL FACTORS (operating throughout society as a whole) can range from religious culture, leadership perceptions, control of women’s voices, and gender unconsciousness and can be significant constraints on women’s career choices.

Madsen concludes: This issue does not just affect women; it also impacts families, businesses, nonprofits, communities, schools, universities and even states, regions and nations. In other words, the gender pay gap affects everyone!

The number of challenges to wage equity (and women’s equity overall) demand a multifaceted and long-term approach. But recognition of the many types of barriers can help organizations, businesses, and policymakers address the issues within their own walls and may help develop new norms. In the process, new norms can be carried into homes and the broader society. 

Our work at Chrysalis continues to involve building community awareness of the multiple challenges girls and women face as they strive to become economically empowered.