THE BLOG
02/19/2014 12:07 pm ET Updated Apr 21, 2014

Half the Pay -- But Is It Half the Work? 3 Reasons Why Gender Inequity Exists

Mary Barra, the first female CEO of GM, gets paid half of what her male predecessor makes.

Quoting GM's January 2014 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Elizbaeth MacDonald writes on Fox Business that Barra will "get $4.4 million in total compensation, including a base salary of $1.6 million, in 2014." MacDonald contrasts these figures with Akerson's estimated $9 million in compensation last year, which includes a $1.7 million base salary and $7.3 million in stock. That's about two times more than Barra's pay package.

Now, Barra has come out and argued that her gender is not a factor in her compensation. But the media flurry around her appointment -- and pay package -- has me thinking about the gender pay gap in senior level positions.

I'd like to pose a question: What if all women worked based on what we were paid relative to men? At the current wage gap, we should work 77% of the work week. Even when people argue that it's because women work in different industries, looking at this inequality in the car industry, I would say that's wrong.

Five decades on from the Equal Pay Act of 1963, it's clear we need to take a tougher approach so that future generations of women don't suffer the same penalties. And that approach includes each individual, organization and the government: Men have to 'Man Up' and 'Lean In,' and Women have to advocate for themselves

Looking at all the data, I've narrowed down a few reasons I think inequity like this still shows up today, even at high-up levels like CEOs.

1. Lack of Transparency in Pay Systems
This allows companies to pay female employees less than their male colleagues, without staff even being aware of it, says the TUC. Publishing annual gender pay gap information and conducting regular pay audits would enable companies to identify any gender pay gaps and take action to close them.

2. Not Enough Senior-Level Part-Time Positions
Considering the resources that are lacking for women, there aren't enough of these jobs to help women continue their careers after having children. Too many women are forced to trade down their jobs and abandon their careers just to find working hours that can fit around their childcare arrangements.

The TUC wants the government to boost the availability of more senior part-time jobs by encouraging employers to advertise all jobs on a flexible basis where possible. Ministers could take the initiative by making it a requirement for all public sector job vacancies, says the TUC.

3. Remove the Six-Month Qualifying Period
The government can also strengthen the right to request flexible working by removing the six month qualifying period and making it available to employees on the day they start a new job. Giving employees -- of both sexes -- the ability to take off when the work-life balance demands it.

In one of his TED Talks, Dan Pink discusses companies that demand time from their employees on a "Results Only Work Environment". That means that employees can work as often, or as little, as they want, as long as they get all of their work done. And the results are astonishingly positive.