Are Women to Blame for the Gender Wage Gap in Social Media?

Guest blogger Suzanne McDonald leapt from The Boston Globe into content and new media circa 2008. Her firm, Designated Editor, ideates and implements editorial packages across new media. Join her conversation on Twitter.

Are we still in the “Mad Men” era, simply sanitized of workplace sex, cigs, and drinks?

Yes, sadly, we are. My most resonant recent social media dispatches prove it.

Pay equity? Oh this gender thing, we’re not past that already?

No indeed, we’re not!

In the past decade-plus, female managers still only earn 81 cents for every dollar earned by their male peers, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office report, “Women in Management: Analysis of Female Managers’ Representation, Characteristics, and Pay.”

But closer to related skills, women are earning about 78 cents for each dollar a guy takes home. In 2007, male public relations professionals reported average annual salaries of $93,494, while women’s reported salaries averaged $66,467, found a PRSA-commissioned study of more than 500 PRSA members.

I was blessedly ignorant as a card-carrying newsroom union member

Everyone loves to complain about unions, but women should be especially envious. At The Boston Globe, there were 5 steps for copy editors: After 5 years, you’d be at the top step – or sooner if you had more experience and/or better negotiating skills. The steps applied to women and men equally and were clearly defined in the contract we all followed.

Eye-opening for me: A recent mashup of events has placed this issue front-of-mind.

First, a networking friend sent a LinkedIn message about her newest crusade, to encourage women to negotiate when they get a job offer. I thought: “People – I mean women – DON’T?”

And when I forwarded the message, indeed, I got a few replies that confirmed it: Some women are so grateful to be picked, they don’t want to risk it. “By the time salary discussions are underway,” I replied, “you’ve been chosen. So why not try getting a little more, which the employer expects you to do!”

Traveling in Asia, you would never pay asking price in a market. It’s part of the culture to bargain. Isn’t our hiring process just the same culture? Like the vendor in Thailand, the new boss won’t respect you if you don’t negotiate.

Negotiate doesn’t mean demand; it’s simply a discussion from which a suitable comprise leaves both sides feeling they’ve gained a little more. Think job satisfaction: You’re satisfied with your job even before you start, so your employer doesn’t have to pay to train your replacement when you decide after a month you hate it.

And in this economy, perhaps you’re not negotiating for salary, but to be sure you can attend industry events, or a few more personal days. If you have kids at home, why wouldn’t you head off tensions by ensuring you’re able to manage both your job and your family?

Getting back to the GAO report: Working manager moms are making even less than the average. Having a family just earned you a 2-cent pay CUT.

Fortunately for women in new media, things are looking up. PayScale.com kindly provides a gender analysis, a metric that simply underscores where we’re at. As a woman in Massachusetts with a master’s in Journalism and 15 years’ experience, if I call myself an:

  • “Online Communications Strategist” I should see $232 MORE in my paycheck than if I were a man.
  • Or as an “Interactive Media Director,” my salary should be nearly $8,000 higher than my male counterparts’.

And now there’s proof why women deserve more pay

NYU professor Scott Galloway presented the Facebook IQ report, assessing how 100 luxury brands are faring on Facebook, at OMMA Social.

The key takeaway for me? Not Bare Essentials is out-Facebooking Bobbi Brown (talking makeup here), but that women are driving ROI via social media. Yes, yes, everyone could have guessed: Social media commands a lot of women’s attention. But now we have actual numbers to prove it.

Professor Galloway, tossed this nugget early on:

“Brands lead by men in their 50s and 60s are simply hoping Facebook will go away, but their female peers are seizing the potential and seeing real results.”

Simply further proof of the value women bring. Cite this study poor PR sisters!

That’s what performance-based is all about no? Is this not the foundation of capitalism, of our economy, and well, culture?

Time to cough up, guys. And women: No more excuses. What else can I say, grow a pair.

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