Women in Focus: How We Can Close the Salary Gap7:00 AM
Welcome to our first #WomenInFocus article! I wanted to start things off at the very beginning -- starting salary is one of the very first numbers you have to evaluate when beginning your career, and one of the very first times that being female really comes into play in your optometric career as a disadvantage. Review of Optometry's 2015 income survey showed that the average full-time salary for male optometrists was 68% higher than the average full-time salary for women. The average male OD made $171,603 and the average female OD made $117,020 last year. Obviously we have an uphill climb in our industry to close this pay gap. And Review of Optometry's numbers show the gap starts right from the beginning. The average salary of a full-time female optometrist practicing for less than 10 years was 16% lower than that of male ODs with the same experience.
How can we close the gap?
First, we have to admit the gap is real across our profession and talk about it -- in schools, at meetings, and in publications. I applaud Review of Optometry for reporting their data so carefully to prevent the gap in salary figures from being blown off as skewed data like so many articles I read when I first graduated. And then as women, we have to admit to ourselves that we're doing something wrong. Millennial women are often of the belief that the feminist battles have been won. The very idea that we may be treated differently than our male counterparts seems absurd. But then why don’t the numbers support our feelings of female equality being a forgone conclusion? The easiest explanation for what we can do to close the gap is to follow the lead of our male counterparts when it comes to income - bother to ask about your pay! Studies show that one of the biggest reasons women are paid less than men is because we don’t negotiate the initial offer of pay.
|Graduation day at SCO. I feel like this photo symbolizes|
optometry today. Male leaders in our profession are
passing the baton to our generation of female ODs,
but are we doing our part to grab hold?