One Place Where Women’s Pay Remains Stubbornly Equal to Men’s: U.S. Military

Sunday, December 20, 2015
Admiral Michelle Howard, vice chief of Naval operations, second-highest ranking Naval officer

Equal pay for equal work remains a dream for many women, but it’s reality for those serving in the U.S. military.


Because of the way military ranks and pay are structured, all of those of the same rank and time of service are paid the same and that goes for officers and enlisted personnel. That makes the military pay system gender blind.


The system fosters equality in several ways, Allison Schrager wrote at Quartz. The pay grades are public knowledge; there’s no room for negotiation, eliminating the ability for some to persuade a boss to pay more; and everyone’s required to do the same work—there’s no room for flexibility in the military. If there’s a deployment, everyone goes.


The one thing that historically has held back women in the armed forces is that not all jobs were open to women, especially spots in combat units which are seen as a prerequisite for promotion. But Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s announcement that all jobs are open equally to men and women changed that and women should soon see a clearer path to advancement.


Some of the services are going out of their way to retain women. The Coast Guard, which has had all jobs open to women since 1978, offers a two-year sabbatical to encourage mothers to stay in the service. For its part, the Navy has instituted an 18-week maternity leave, far longer than most available in the private sector.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Ladies, If You Want Equal Pay, Join the U.S. Military (by Allison Schrager, Quartz)

A New Look at Gender and Minority Differences in Officer Career Progression in the Military (by Beth J. Asch, Trey Miller and Alessandro Malchiodi, Rand Corporation)

Gender Pay Gap Exists in Every U.S. Industry (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Wage Gap between Men and Women Drops to “Only 21%” (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov California)


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