Can an App Help Close the Gender Pay Gap?

iStock_000021233733XSmallBy Robin Madell (San Francisco)

As we approach Equal Pay Day on Tuesday (April 9), The Glass Hammer spoke with Katie Donovan, whose new mobile app Earn More Girl helps women determine their personal pay gap. The app, which is available for iPhones and iPads, allows women to enter their current pay and select their job type to find out what they would probably earn if they were paid similarly to men.

Donovan was inspired to create her app after reviewing data on the gender pay gap at Narrow the Gapp. There, she discovered that figures from the Department of Labor show the gender pay gap for 135 job categories ranges from 58% to 97%. Donovan recognized that most working women have more than enough on their plate to spend time analyzing the specific data to figure out their personal impact, and thus are unsure if and how the gap affects them personally.

Additionally, women trying to be informed job seekers currently are not able to see the true market value of a job since all salary research sites combine the salaries of men and women working in a job to determine the salary range and key data points, such as the median income for a job. Unfortunately, using such information creates an artificially low target salary. To help address this, Donovan decided it was time to automate the process, enabling women to learn their true target salary (or corresponding data point for men) through an app.

When she first found the data revealing the breakdown of men’s and women’s salaries in the exact same 135 jobs, Donavan knew she could adjust salary research to target the men’s salary. She began by providing a simple spreadsheet with a formula on her website that women could use to calculate comparable median points and other target salaries with what men earned. Yet she quickly realized the value that a mobile app would have in providing this information more seamlessly.

“From my perspective, this is a chicken and egg issue,” says Donovan. “Do women want this information and thus I provide it, or do I promote the fact that such information is available so women will begin to ask for it? I decided to provide the information and help raise awareness.”

Who Needs It

During her research phase, Donovan found that when one looks at the audience of various salary research websites, women are heavily represented – but only those ages 18-34 without children. Though Donovan notes it is great news that younger businesswomen are become better-informed consumers when it comes to salaries, that same group is less prominent on websites that provide information about the gender pay gap.

“Looking at the audience of websites about the gender pay gap, you will find women over 45 heavily represented,” says Donovan. “I believe that is when women tend to discover the big hit they have taken in their personal pay. There seems to be a lack of combining the knowledge of job values and gender pay gap impact as women prepare to negotiate a starting salary, a raise, or a salary adjustment. If we can combine the information, then women truly will be ready to eliminate their own pay gap.”

Why It Works

The Earn More Girl app has two capabilities. The first is to determine what a woman would earn if she were a typical male based on her current pay and the gender pay gap for her job. Users can open the application and select “Increase Current Salary.” Next, users can enter their current salary, press Next, and then select their job from five main categories that match those used by the Department of Labor.

Each of the main categories has a gender pay gap value, and each subcategory and job have their own value as well. The more exact you are in selecting your job, the more exact the results will be. Even if you can’t find your exact job title, you can still select a category to get as close to your personal pay gap as possible.

Earn More Girl Pro also calculates your True Target Salary. You can select “Increase Your Target Salary” and enter the salary you found through salary research for a job, then select your job. “Since research includes men’s and women’s data, we want to target what the men are making at a certain level,” says Donovan. “To eliminate the gender pay gap, we truly need to be targeting the men’s salary level. Using the gender pay gap for the job and the makeup of men and women in that job enables the app to adjust and give you the result of what men are making at that level.”

One Step Toward Pay Equity

Donovan’s goal in creating her app is to take away the personal angst of salary and negotiation for women. “Just like a dress, a haircut, a car, an airline ticket, or a house, there is a going rate for the pay of every job,” she says. “The rate may change based on location, market, urgency, and other variables. Women are amazing consumers with these other items. In fact, according to She-conomy, women make 85% of brand purchasing decisions, and 92% of women share information with each other about deals. Earn More Girl is one step in helping women use their amazing consumer skills to be informed consumers of salaries.”

She adds that the question should not be what are you worth or what are you looking to make, but what is the job worth? “The decision that you are good enough to do the job is based on your education, experience, and accomplishments,” says Donovan. “The decision on what salary should be offered to you is based on what is the lowest salary the employer thinks you will accept. With Earn More Girl, if you are good enough to get offered the job, then you will know what you should get paid to do the job.”