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editorial
Equal Pay for Equal Work


For every five years of work, men are taking home an extra year's worth of salary
Four years ago, I wrote an editorial condemning corporate America for not stepping up to the plate and paying female face-to-face marketing professionals the same salaries as their male counterparts. I'm revisiting the topic, because apparently the message was not received.

EXHIBITOR began tracking the average salaries of exhibit and event professionals in 1987. Since then, we've paid particular attention to the wage disparity between male and female respondents. And while we have seen total compensation ebb and flow, women in our industry are no better off than they were 29 years ago. In 1987, women made an average of 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Today, they are still making 77 cents on the dollar.

According to the World Economic Forum's most recent Global Gender Gap Report, women in the United States earn, on average, 75 percent of the wages earned by men in similar positions. But some women in the exhibition industry fair even worse; those holding the title of conventions and meetings manager earn just 60 cents per dollar earned by men. And when we compare the average salaries of male and female respondents over the last five years, the total difference in pay equals $80,650. In other words, for every five years of work, men are taking home an extra year's worth of salary.

Researchers cite myriad possible factors for the disparity, but according to Linda Babcock, professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University and co-author of the book "Women Don't Ask," the most likely contributor is that women ask for raises and promotions 85 percent less often than their male counterparts. And when they do, they typically ask for 30 percent less money. Other research suggests that women in entry-level positions start at lower salaries than male employees, meaning that even if they did receive raises and promotions at the same rate as men, they still would not close the gap.

So what's a woman to do? In her aptly titled book, "Know Your Value," Mika Brzezinski claims that the first step is understanding what you're worth. That's the primary reason EXHIBITOR has devoted one issue per year to providing that information. If you don't know your market value, and what your peers are being paid, it's difficult to demand more and practically impossible to justify that request. Once you know what you're worth, you have to ask for it. And probably more than once.

Granted, there are bright spots hidden among the wage-disparity clouds. Female respondents with titles such as exhibit manager, trade show manager, or corporate event manager make more than 90 cents per dollar earned by men with those titles. And women holding the position of advertising and marketing manager actually earn more than their male counterparts. But if four years from now, the average female face-to-face marketer is still making 77 – or even 87 – cents for every dollar earned by men, we should all be ashamed.

To do our part, EXHIBITOR has removed gender as a factor in our online salary calculator. While we will continue to report on gender-based wage disparity, we believe that gender should not play a role in how marketers value themselves, even for comparative purposes.

So carefully digest the salary survey data featured in this issue. Use our online compensation calculator at www.ExhibitorOnline.com/Salary to determine your value based on more than a dozen factors. Know your worth, and advocate for a fair and equal wage – for yourself and others in your organization (men, that includes you). For as Brzezinski artfully puts it, "If we can't quantify and communicate our value with confidence, the achievements of the tremendous women before us will have all been for nothing." E


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