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The wage gap costs women in the U.S. about $1.6 trillion per year, according to a new report.

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, in 2022, women earned 78 cents for every dollar men earned.

The researchers calculated the total cost to women of the wage gap using statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, specifically data on all women who worked, whether full-time or part-time, and those who took time off for illness or care took.

Here’s a look at other coverage in CNBC’s Women & Wealth special report, where we examine ways women can increase their income, save and make the most of their opportunities.

“We’ve had the wage gap for so long that people have become desensitized to it and think it’s normal,” said Jocelyn Frye, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families. “But it’s not something we should consider normal, and we shouldn’t normalize inequalities that shouldn’t exist.”

Although the numbers are discouraging, experts say the information should motivate women to be more aggressive in salary negotiations.

“I don’t want it to discourage women or make them feel less motivated to go out and get the pay that they deserve,” said career and money expert Mandi Woodruff-Santos.

3 factors behind the wage gap

Three factors contribute to the persistent wage gap, Frye said:

  1. Care tasks: Women, on average, tend to work fewer hours because they take on much of the caregiving responsibilities in their families, she said. For example, last year, women spent about 2.68 hours a day caring for household children under age 6, according to the American Time Use Survey.
  2. Occupational segregation: Women concentrate on lower-paying jobs and are often excluded from higher-paying jobs because of occupational segregation, she said. The U.S. Department of Labor has found that 42 percent of the wage gap is due to occupational segregation, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
  3. Discrimination in the workplace: Women continue to face gender bias and discrimination. At that time, half of U.S. adults said that employers’ differential treatment of women contributed to the wage gap, the Pew Research Center found.

“Intervening on these three issues alone could significantly close that gap,” Frye said.

What the wage gap means for women of color

Asian American women earned the most among female workers, earning 89 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic male workers, the National Partnership for Women and Families found.

This wage scale worsens for every major racial or ethnic group in the country, with white workers paid 74 cents on the dollar; Black workers, 66 cents; and Latina workers, 52 cents.

It’s important not to ignore the data but to let it motivate you, added Woodruff-Santos, co-host of the Brown Ambition podcast series and founder of MandiMoney Makers.

“While data like this is important, it should not discourage women of all backgrounds,” Woodruff-Santos said. “You don’t have to be a statistic.”

Here are three tips to help you get ahead:

1. Expand your network

If you want to advance professionally, you need contacts. To make connections, you need to feel comfortable talking to different people.

First, build your confidence by sharing your work and expertise with those around you – both in your company and in the industry you work in. For example, showcase your work expertise at monthly team meetings and, for greater reach, on social media platforms.

“Make sure your name is known throughout the company and is associated with excellence,” Woodruff-Santos said.

When making yourself known to others, conversations can become more awkward the higher you rise as a woman — and even more so if you’re a woman of color, she added.

“These rooms weren’t built for us, but it’s important that you keep pushing and earn a spot at these tables,” Woodruff-Santos said.

2. Stay informed about your market value

You should make a point to have in-depth conversations with hiring managers and recruiters and ask them about compensation ranges for someone with your experience to get an idea of ​​your current market value.

You can later share this information with your current employer when negotiating raises. But what provides even greater leverage is a competing job offer, Woodruff-Santos said.

“Women often need proof that we are wanted by another company to galvanize our managers and supervisors,” she said. “If they’re not afraid of losing you, you have less influence.”

3. Think about the “compensation cupcake”

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The “compensation cupcake” is the analogy Woodruff-Santos uses to help people determine their price and understand their worth.

The basis of the cupcake or the cake itself is the market rate for your base salary. The icing on the cake is your additional incentives, such as annual bonuses, stock awards or professional reimbursement funds that your company offers.

“These are financial benefits that we get that are not included in our base salary, but definitely like cash in our pocket,” she said.

The sprinkles on the cupcake symbolize non-vesting benefits such as home equity or 401(k) plan matches. Finally, the whole thing is rounded off by a “compensation cherry” that looks at data such as the gender pay gap.

“Add a 10% to 20% markup on top of the compensation you think they are vying for to make up that deficit,” Woodruff-Santos said.

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