Close the Gender Pay Gap

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This month’s Cover Story marks a milestone for VM’s Most Influential Women Report which made its debut 10 years ago this month. Over the past decade, many of the changes we’ve seen in the eyecare/eyewear industry have been positive as women continue to break through barriers. Today’s women are playing more diverse roles and have a stronger voice when it comes to the dialogues taking place in the board rooms, exam rooms and show rooms. The flexibility that accompanies a career in optical is still attracting more women to professions such as optometry, where females graduating as ODs continues to rise (67 percent of the graduating class in 2010 were women).

However, when looking back at VM’s last decade of honoring Influential Women, it’s worth noting that the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. Average salaries for female ODs who’ve been in practice for 10 years or more are still seriously lagging, with women earning $99,609 versus $118,610 for their male counterparts, according to the 2011 ECP Compensation Study conducted by Jobson Optical Research. Salary trends in optical mirror what’s happening with women’s earning power in the overall job marketplace where serious pay differences between men and women remain—in 2010, women made on average about 77 cents for every dollar men made.

While some might explain the gender pay gap is due to occupational and lifestyle choices, labor economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn found that “over 40 percent of the pay gap cannot be explained by such differences, concluding that there is evidence that…discrimination does still continue to exist.”

It’s time to lobby harder for equal pay for equal work and assert your economic influence before another decade passes and women lose the earnings race for good. We’d love to hear your thoughts. E-mail us at visionmonday@jobson.com.

mkane@jobson.com