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The Gender Pay Gap Is Alive in Healthcare Philanthropy, But You Can Help Bridge It

Jenny Love
Published:  01/18/2023


I write today with discouraging news: the gender pay gap is alive and well in healthcare philanthropy.  

The just-released AHP salary report showed that among respondents those identifying as male earned 39% more than their female counterparts. This discrepancy was true even within specific positions. Male chief development officers earn 44% more than female chief development officers. Male major gift officers earn 8% more. Male development officers earn 17% more. And so on. 

I guess this shouldn’t be surprising to me. Despite efforts to close the pay gap, it persists in many countries around the world. In the United States, for example, women earn just 84% of what men do, despite working the same number of hours and often having the same level of education and experience. 

It may not be surprising, but it’s disheartening to see this gap in healthcare philanthropy, where 80% of professionals are themselves women.  

One often-cited reason for the gender pay gap is the fact that women and men often work in different industries and occupations. For example, women are more likely to work in lower-paying fields like education and healthcare delivery, while men are more likely to work in higher-paying fields like technology and finance. This means that even if men and women are paid the same amount within their respective industries, the overall gap will still exist because men are more likely to work in higher-paying fields. 

This argument makes some sense to me. But the AHP salary report shows that, at least in healthcare philanthropy, the gap persists within the same field—even within the same position in the same field. There is no excuse for this. 

There is no excuse, but there’s also no easy solution. Closing the gender pay gap will require a multi-faceted approach that addresses discrimination, the gender segregation of industries and occupations, the "motherhood penalty," and societal expectations and gender roles. This will likely involve a combination of education and awareness campaigns, policies that support equal pay and opportunities for women, and changes to the way we think about and value the work done by women. 

You may not be able to solve all these problems yourself, but you can certainly take steps to ensure that women (including you, if you are one) are paid fairly. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind. 

Pay Equity Tips for Women 

Negotiate your salary: I can’t stress this one enough, especially for young people. It’s one of the most effective ways to ensure that you are paid fairly now, and to set a benchmark for your value throughout your career. This can be intimidating, but it is important to remember that you are worth what you are asking for. Before negotiating, check out the AHP salary report or other similar resources to find out what other people in similar positions are being paid and use that information to support your request for a higher salary. 

Know your worth: It is important for women to know their worth and to be confident in their abilities. This means being aware of your skills, experiences, and accomplishments, and being able to communicate them effectively to potential employers. 

Seek out supportive mentors: Having a mentor who can offer guidance and support can be incredibly helpful in advancing your career.  

Advocate for change: It is important for women to advocate for change and to work towards closing the gender pay gap. This can involve speaking out about the issue, supporting legislation that promotes gender equality, and working with colleagues and employers to address pay disparities. 

Men Also Have a Role to Play 

Men can help level the playing field by contributing to workplaces that encourage respect and value gender equity.  

Shine a light on bias: Standing up to bias has an external and an internal component. Externally, it means calling out discrimination and bias and refusing to participate in or condone discrimination or harassment of any kind in the workplace. It also means looking inward to be aware of your own biases and work to overcome them. 

Be a mentor: Support and mentor women in the workplace, and actively encourage them to speak up and assert themselves in salary negotiations and other high-stakes situations. 

Advocate for change: It’s not only women who can advocate for change. Men can also support policies that promote pay equity, including parental leave policies that encourage equal sharing of care giving responsibilities and promote equal opportunities for both men and women. 

The impact of unequal pay follows women throughout their lives. Because they earn less in their working years, women collect less in Social Security and pensions—about 70% as much as men do. We may not be able to solve this problem for the world, or even—if, like me, you are a woman approaching a certain age—for ourselves. But we can make a difference in our own organizations and on our teams and for the college-aged woman considering applying for your open entry-level position as I am writing this.  

No more excuses. 

Find out what your job is worth in the latest AHP salary report, available for the United States and Canada. 

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Meet The Author

Jenny Love
Chief Content Officer
Association for Healthcare Philanthropy

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