We Asked 14 Employees to Share Their Salaries With Each Other

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Despite the fact that the Equal Pay Act was signed into law 55 years ago, equal pay remains a hot topic among politicians, activists, and every woman wondering if her pay check is a little bit smaller than that of the guy sitting next to her. But all the equal-pay legislation in the world can’t be enforced if people don’t know their colleagues’ salaries.

In celebration of Equal Pay Day, we wanted to see what would happen if we asked people with the same job title to share their salaries with each other. It’s one thing to say that you want equality with your colleagues, and quite another to put that number out in the open.

Two senior editors at different magazines at Hearst
He Makes: $89,500
She Makes: $80,000
+$9,500 for him

Him: “I think we all feel extremely awkward discussing it with each other; there’s a fear that either we don’t make as much as our colleagues or we make more, and having that out in the open will create an awkward or hostile work environment. We often feel siloed and closed off from one another already, so any additional tension is usually averted for the sake of the group as a whole. I am not surprised to hear that a female colleague with my title makes less than me, but I’m disappointed nonetheless.”

Her: “I’m not at all surprised, but perhaps it is my own fault for not advocating for myself more and not being pushier about my own salary. To me, any discrepancy of $10,000 or less doesn’t upset me. Perhaps this person has been at the company longer than me. I’d be disappointed though, if I asked for more and they said no.”

Two English professors at the University of Oregon
He Makes: $94,290
She Makes: $88,474
+$5,816 for him

Him: “I believe that people should be compensated based on their position, competence, and performance, regardless of gender identification, race, sexual orientation, etc. Pay inequities between people holding comparable positions and performing comparably should be addressed and eliminated.”

Her: “A couple of years ago I ran the numbers (since all our salaries are public) and calculated that at my level, the average male professor in my department makes $5,000 more than the average female professor. That doesn’t sound like a lot (though there’s certainly a lot I could do with an extra $5,000 a year), but at the University of Oregon, we are so underpaid that that’s actually pretty hefty.”

Two teachers at a charter school in Jacksonville, FL
He Makes: $42,500
She Makes: $40,500
+$2,000 for him

Him: “If it’s apples to apples, there shouldn’t be any discrepancies in our pay based on a strict set of guidelines that includes time of service, performance evaluations, and responsibilities. Without knowing all of my colleague’s credentials, I can clearly state that I would not only be surprised but be the first to call HR to demand her pay be adjusted.”

Her: “That is a typical compensation for our jobs and locations, but I was surprised to find out that there was any difference at all considering we have the same salary structure. We actually ended up discussing it, and it turns out that he was more aggressive in asking for a raise, that’s all. I’ll be making that move this year!”

Two first-year associates at the same multi-national law firm
He Makes: $180,000
She Makes: $180,000

Him: “I would be shocked if a female associate was making less than her male counterpart, especially when the legal market demands that prestigious firms compete with their peers by matching salaries. It’s 2018 — no room for prejudice with so much talent in the world.”

Her: “Great! I would say that I’m not surprised regarding the salary being the same (salary is lock-step based on your associate class year) but there is less transparency with regard to yearly bonuses. While on its face the salary can seem equal, I think for junior associates and beyond there can be more of a discrepancy when it comes to bonuses due to the discretionary bonus policy.”

Two psychotherapists in the Philadelphia suburbs
He Makes: $190 per 45-minute session
She Makes: $110 per hourly session
+$143 per hour for him                                                      

Him: “First, I really can’t interpret this number without a lot more context. Does she offer 45- or 60-minute sessions? What was the length and quality of the training? Is this a master’s or doctoral level therapist? Does the therapist specialize or offer more generalized treatment? It’s possible that the rate is lower than one might expect, though it could also be relatively higher than expected.”

Her: “I’m a little surprised the per-session cost is that high. As a clinician (often with insight into client’s financial situations), I struggle with balancing the affordability of my services with the notion of recognizing the actual worth of my services. I intend to increase my rates per time, but I imagine I’ll always struggle with that balance.”

Two senior associates at PricewaterhouseCoopers
He Makes: $75,000
She Makes: $125,000 (plus $5,000 signing bonus)
-$50,000 for him

Him: “Females are paid well, and that is very good!”

Her: “Wow, I’m kind of surprised to hear that number! I knew I was high in the ‘senior associate’ range because of Glassdoor (which is part of why I didn’t push for my salary to be higher) but now I’m hoping this means they think I’m easily promotable. I can only assume my being on the higher end is because I explicitly told the recruiter what I made at my last job and they made an effort to match it.”

Two entry-level civil engineers at AECOM
He Makes: $58,900
She Makes: $61,200 a year
-$2,300 for him

Him: “I feel that’s pretty fair. I know my female colleague is a little more qualified than myself educationally so I am happy that she is compensated as such. I feel like most people at our position are paid fairly equally within the company, but I’m glad that since she put the extra time into advancing her education that it’s reflected in her paycheck. Hopefully, when I complete my education I can receive something similar.”

Her: “I guess I’m slightly surprised that I only make a small amount more than my colleague. I had hoped that my master’s degree would have gotten me more of a pay bump, but we still have the same title and my colleague has been there slightly longer than I have. My boss is a woman and is very proactive about being fair but I’m not sure that goes for all of the people hiring within our company. I’d be more interested to see the difference in pay between males and females higher up the chain. I’m sure it’s much more drastic there.”

We Asked 14 Employees to Share Their Salaries