young mother with infant trying to check screen of her laptop (Photo: Shutterstock)

Still waiting for equal pay? Don’t hold your breath. That’s the message behind a report from PayScale, Inc., which finds that there hasn’t been a whole lot of progress in achieving gender pay equity despite a lot of lip service to the concept.

In its annual report ”The 2020 State of the Gender Pay Gap,” women have managed to make a whole two cents more than last year compared to men—coming out at $.81 for every $1 their male colleagues make. Last year they “only” made $.79 for each of those male-earned dollars.

If that’s not bad enough, women are going to be taking it on the chin far more than men in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only are women the ones predominantly on the front lines of child care during school closures, they’re also the ones who generally provide care for elderly parents or other relatives who are ill or simply confined to the house.

And according to the report, that absence is going to continue to cost them—with a 7 percent lower pay offer “than a candidate who is currently employed when they apply for the same position upon return to the workforce.” And if that doesn’t just make your day, there’s this: “despite increased pressure from employees to close the gender pay gap and additional legislation, only 38 percent of companies have plans to conduct a pay equity analysis at their company to identify the problem.”

“Our research shows women are unfairly impacted financially in times of crises like the current coronavirus epidemic,” Sudarshan Sampath, director of research at PayScale, is quoted saying.

Sampath adds, “Employers should recognize these employment gaps to care for family members may not be avoidable and should not be ‘pay penalized’ when women return to the workforce,” and points out that although the public perception is that companies are beginning to pay men and women equally, the reality is quite different..

Then there’s the fact that women aren’t ascending the corporate ladder as quickly as men, who are twice as likely to be directors or executives by the age of 45 as women. They also hold twice as many executive jobs (12 percent of men) compared with women (6 percent) and benefit from an even larger pay gap at executive pay levels (women make just $.69 to every dollar earned by a male executive).

Even the “controlled pay gap”—what women and men earn for doing the same work—sees women come out the losers. Although the gap here seems small ($.98 for women to every dollar for men), it adds up over a 40-year career to a large disparity, with “a woman earning $80,000 less for doing the exact same work as a man,” says the report, adding, “When the pay gap is analyzed for the work of all women versus all men, the average women earns about $1,000,000 less than a man over the course of her career.”