Two new reports this week have me thinking about gender earnings inequality and how that wage gap has an impact on women and their families. For instance, regardless of whether they are married or single, mothers have substantially lower earnings than fathers, with a slightly narrower gap for married mothers, according to new research.


The analysis from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) found that married mothers earned 73.3 percent of married fathers’ earnings ($44,000, compared with $60,000), while single mothers earned 70.7 percent of what single fathers earned ($31,100, compared with $44,000) in 2015. The analysis was released on Mothers Equal Pay Day (May 23), the day symbolizing how far into the year mothers must work to earn what fathers earned in the previous year, the institute notes.


“Mothers work, just as fathers do, but they earn much less for their efforts,” says IWPR Program Director for Employment & Earnings Ariane Hegewisch. “Discrimination and the lack of a proper work-family policy infrastructure increase inequality and harm not only mothers, but also their children, partners and communities.”


The impact of this earnings inequity accumulates over a lifetime and into retirement, says IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. “Rather than formulating tax plans and government budgets that would exacerbate inequality, policymakers should focus on improving the economic fortunes of many American families by addressing gender inequality in earnings,” Hartmann says.


I was also interested to learn this week that while women CEOs are earning more, there are still very few of them. The median pay for a female CEO was $13.1 million last year, up nine percent from 2015, according to an analysis by executive data firm Equilar and The Associated Press. By comparison, the median pay for male CEOs was $11.4 million, also up nine percent.


However, the number of women in CEO roles has barely budged. Just six percent of the top paid CEOs in the U.S. last year were women, according to the analysis, a slight increase from about five percent in 2015 and 2014.


The highest paid woman was Virginia Marie “Ginni” Rometty, chair, president and CEO of IBM, bumping Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer from the top spot. Rometty earned $32.3 million last year, a 63 percent jump from the year before, mainly due to $12.1 million in stock option awards she didn’t receive in 2015, according to the Equilar and AP analysis.


Mayer earned $27.4 million last year, making her the second-highest paid woman, but she may be out of a job after Yahoo Inc. completes the sale of its websites and email services to Verizon Communications Inc., the report notes. Third on the list is Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo Inc., who earned $25.2 million, up 13 percent from 2015. She was followed by Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, who earned $22.4 million.


To calculate pay, Equilar added salary, bonus, perks, stock awards, stock option awards and other types of compensation. The firm only looked at companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index which filed proxy statements with federal regulators between Jan. 1 and May 1, 2017. The analysis also only included CEOs who have been in their roles for at least two years to exclude sign-on bonuses. Of the 346 CEOs in that group, just 21 were women.


Janice Ellig, co-CEO of executive search firm Chadick Ellig, says “unconscious bias” in the workplace keeps women from getting opportunities which will put them on track for top roles. Companies need to “start recognizing that gender inequality exists,” says Ellig, who is also chairperson of the Women’s Forum of New York.


“If you don’t recognize a problem, you can’t solve a problem,” Ellig says.


What do you think about gender earning inequality? Do you think women are paid less than male counterparts? If so, what do you think would help solve the problem?