In honor of Women’s Equality Day, a day dedicated to realizing equality for women in the United States, University of Phoenix sought to understand how employed women perceive their access to equal pay opportunities in the workplace. According to an online survey commissioned by University of Phoenix, 30 percent of employed women do not agree that men and women have equal pay opportunities in the workplace, and 25 percent of employed women disagree that men and women have equal opportunities to show their worth at work.

“These statistics reinforce why we must continue to champion access to equal workplace opportunities,” said Doris Savron, executive dean for the Colleges of Health Professions, Education and Humanities and Sciences at University of Phoenix. “While we know that there are a number of factors regarding why people may have different opportunities at work–including pay and responsibilities–it is important to understand why women feel this way and determine what can be done to address it.”

Top Reasons Women Cite Regarding Lack of Equal Pay Opportunities

According to the survey, 24 percent of employed women, to the best of their knowledge, do not feel that they are paid as much as their coworkers who do similar work. They cite the following reasons for why this may be true:

• Coworkers’ tenure/length of service is longer than theirs – 29 percent

• Did not negotiate salary – 27 percent

• Workplace inequality due to gender – 26 percent

“From my experience, women must be willing to self-advocate regarding their access to equal opportunities,” said Savron. “For example, negotiating salary is an area where women can have an immediate and direct impact on reducing workplace inequalities. Potential employees have possibly their highest negotiating power during the hiring window, and should always make calculated choices regarding compensation and benefits they ask for up front.”

How Employers Can Improve Equal Pay Opportunities

When asked what their workplace could do to improve equal pay opportunities, women cited the following:

• Better communication on what steps employees can take to achieve pay increases – 46 percent

• Access to education/training to improve skills – 29 percent

• More frequent performance reviews/”check-ins” on employee goals – 28 percent

Dean Savron’s Tips for Women in the Workplace

• Learn to self-advocate. Raise your hand, offer your suggestions, and get out of your comfort zone. Highlight not only your own successes, but the successes of your team. In doing this, you continue to show why you are a valuable team member, thus leading to more potential opportunities to participate in projects or work that can make an impact.

• Realize your negotiating power. Our survey found 24 percent of employed women, to the best of their knowledge, do not feel they are paid as much as their coworkers who do similar work stated they did not negotiate their salary. It is also important to remember that it is not just about salary; consider negotiating additional time off, flexible work days, or other benefits.

• Know and nurture your worth. You do not have to be perfect; embrace new experiences and be a lifelong learner by stretching yourself and trying new things. Volunteer for a project that you will have to learn more about to complete, take a class in a subject you are not familiar with or participate in an activity that takes you out of your routine. Be proactive in how you do this, both personally and professionally, to keep your skills sharp.

“While there are a number of contributing factors to the perceived gap in equal workplace opportunities, there are also many ways women can make an impact on their own personal and professional development,” Savron says. “In addition to my other tips, this could mean taking advantage of other opportunities such as employer-offered trainings, conferences, networking events and continuing education. University of Phoenix, for example, offers a number of programs that can help people learn more about key business skills that can be used to advance in the workplace, including business, technology and healthcare programs.”

To view an infographic of the data, click here.