How to Combat the Gender Pay Gap

As students are preparing to exit college and enter the workforce, it’s important to recognize the ongoing issue of the gender pay gap. According to the Pew Research Center as of 2021, women in the United States earned approximately 84 cents for every dollar made by men in 2020. 

However, it’s not enough to just know that this problem exists. How do we actively combat this issue as future workers? Here are some examples of what to ask and do in your interviews and careers to ensure that you will have equal pay for your work!


Do your research:

  • Familiarize yourself with the average pay and benefits of the position you are applying for based on your geographic location and company you are interviewing with. Sites such as Salary, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn are great resources to use.


Things to know:

  • In some states, your interviewer is legally not allowed to ask about your salary history (this is not the case in Nebraska.) Depending on where you plan to live, make sure you know your rights in the interview. If you can be asked about your salary history and do not want to answer in case this could negatively impact a salary offer, there are ways you can deflect. Such as:
    • Saying “I would like to learn more about the job first so I can have a better idea of my salary expectations.”
    • Explaining the context about how this question can contribute to the gender pay gap! Women are more likely to hold lower paying jobs, so asking about salary history can help employers justify a lower pay based on previous work, even when it isn’t relevant to the position being interviewed for.


  • Salary is not the only thing that matters! Pay attention to what your potential employer is offering for retirement and stock options, insurance, flexibility, matching, etc. as well.


Ask questions:

  • In the case that you discover a coworker is earning more than you are, ask yourself these questions: Has this person worked there longer than you? Do they have a higher-up position? Do they have more education or specialized training for the job?
    • If the answers to these questions are “NO,” you can prepare to talk to your boss or HR department about why you aren’t earning the same amount.

Talking to your boss/HR:

  • Go in confident of your abilities and keep a calm demeanor. Discuss the gap you found and ask about why this gap could exist in case there is a valid reason someone else is making more. If there isn’t a good reason, ask about what needs to happen in order for your salary to be raised to a fair rate.

Know your worth:

  • If your employer is completely unwilling to adjust your salary without a valid reason, consider looking for another job opportunity where you can earn equal pay for your work.


By University Career Services
University Career Services