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The difficulty is that fixing the women (e.g., teaching them to be more assertive in making connections, etc.) is not enough to overcome pay inequity, because women are still penalized for doing these things, instead of rewarded as men are -- as was demonstrated by a major Harvard study last year... Read more here, in this link I've posted in an aggressively non-feminine attempt at promoting myself:

http://www.almostgotit.com/2007/08/10/fixing-the-women-not-enough-to-overcome-pay-inequity/

Almost:

Fixing the women may not be enough (because this is a complex and multi-faceted problem, as you point out in your post), but I still believe that this is one of the avenues that must be pursued. Along with inspiring and motivating women to pursue careers in engineering, science and related "in-demand and therefore high paying" fields.

As you note, we may need to address both sides of the equation - the negotiator as well as the negotiatee. Which is why I think HR has a role in this somewhere, too. But ultimately, we have to own our responsibility to stand up and ask to be paid what we are worth. As a consultant (and I know that you've been in these shoes, too), I have to negotiate my pay every time I pursue a new client/project. Doing this well and fairly has been one of the longest learning curves of my career. Which tells me it is learned behavior.

At any rate and lastly, let me take this opportunity to provide an affirming and supportive response to your "aggressively non-feminine" self-promotion ala the post link. Let it all begin here, mate!

thanks for the love, ann! i'm so flattered to have you include my posting in your post as i respect your blog and writing a great deal.

i worry this sounds incredibly cheesy, or touchy feely... but in addressing pay inequity, i wonder if part of the solution has to do with some soul-searching. to understand the root cause and to really address the issue, we have to be incredibly self-aware, right? new laws and regulations certainly aren't the answer. but to be self-aware takes a lot... it takes the motivation and initiative to want to simply improve and be fair... and it takes really great leadership to inspire it or cultivate it. just something i'm chewing on at the moment. i have no answers, but this thought is stuck in my head for some reason... what do you think?

Jessica:

I am with you, that we absolutely must examine and understand the root causes, and begin our work there. The AAUW study that I quoted in an earlier posting on this topic does a credible job of beginning this examination:

http://compforce.typepad.com/compensation_force/2007/04/disturbing_news.html

I believe that there is a place for an initiative here, one that addresses and attacks the complex root causes of gender imbalances, not a law that simply overrides the back-end results without attention to or appreciation of the underlying forces.

And you're right, that it will take ... a lot. A lot of self-awareness, a lot of leadership, etc.

Something for you and I to pursue in our spare time, eh?

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About The Author

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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