Gender Wage Gap May Be 'Genetic,' Says Higher Ed Official

A Florida higher education official came under fire this week when he suggested that the gender pay gap and women lacking the skills to negotiate could be genetic.

Ed Morton, a member of the State University System of Florida’s Board of Directors, made the comments on Tuesday during a board meeting, at which time members were discussing employment and salaries of graduates.

According to Politico, Morton said:

“Something that we’re doing in Naples [with] some of our high school students, we’re actually talking about incorporating negotiating and negotiating skill into curriculum so that the women are given maybe some of it is genetic, I don’t know, I’m not smart enough to know the difference but I do know that negotiating skills can be something that can be honed, and they can improve.”

The board’s report shows that women graduates who are employed full time make a median salary of $37,000 $5,500 less than their male counterparts, who make an average of $42,500.

Data for the report came from information on the 60,333 graduates from the State University Data System (SUDS).

While rates vary by state, women make roughly 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. In 2015 the median income for a woman was $40,742, versus $51,212 for a man. When compared to those numbers, Florida’s female graduates are doing better than the average woman, as they make about 87 cents to the man’s dollar.

Morton further suggested that the gap would close on its own overtime.

“Some of it will probably be a little bit self-correcting, because we’re graduating many more women than we are men from university systems nationwide,” he said.

But the report’s data indicates otherwise. From 2014 to 2015 the median salary for males went up 9 percent but women’s only went up 7 percent, widening the pay gap even further.

Women have been earning more than half of all awarded bachelor’s degrees since the 1981-1982 school year, and the gender gap has still persisted.

Norman Tripp, vice chair of the board, also suggested that perhaps women study fields that pay less.

“Are women going into education more” Tripp said, according to Politico. “Are those salaries naturally lower than in other areas I would just suspect that that might be part of the equation, but we can’t really tell.”

Regardless, men almost always earn more than women. When broken down by field of study, women outpaced men in only about a third of categories but, for the most part, not by a significant amount. For instance, nearly three times more women than men studied communications and journalism but men in the field still earned $1,100 more than women annually.

A Wells Fargo (No. 9 on the 2017 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) study from 2016 found that the gap is persisting even among the youngest working generation. The median salary for millennial men is $39,100 compared to $28,800 for millennial women and $33,800 for the general millennial population. Therefore, the study estimates that the wage gap is larger for millennial women than for the general population.

While evidence does not suggest that women are genetically less likely to be able to ask for a raise, some research shows that women are less likely to ask for a raise than men. But even when women are asking, they are not receiving.

A 2017 study from Paysa revealed that about 41 percent of women have never asked for a raise compared to just 29 percent of men. However, even when women do ask, they are less likely than men to receive one. Of women who asked for a raise, about 42 percent were rejected, versus only 33 percent of men being rejected.

A 2016 study from Warwick University also found that women are less likely to ask for a raise three-quarters of males asked, according to the data, versus 66 percent of females. But of those who did ask, 20 percent of men received, versus only 13 percent of women.

“We were expecting to find evidence for this old theory that women are less pushy than men,” said Andrew Oswald, a professor of economics and behavioral science at the university who co-authored the study, as reported by Fortune. “But the women and the men were equal.”

Therefore, according to Oswald, “there is discrimination against women.”

What Can Women Do

Cox Communications’ Chief Compliance Officer Robin H. Sangston previously shared with DiversityInc some tips on how women can work to close the pay gap they may be facing (Cox is No. 18 on the 2017 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list). Sangston suggests confidence and being collaborative, among other things.

For more information on women, the gender pay gap and to read Sangston’s full list of tips, visit For tips for how men and women can ask for a raise, check out our career advice webinar on How to Ask for a Raise, with Kia Painter-Holland, executive director, organizational effectiveness & employee experience at Cox Communications.

Read more news @

Latest News

Novartis Chief Medical Officer John Tsai on Balancing Medical Innovations With Patient Needs

Originally published at by Elizabeth Dougherty. John Tsai is Novartis’ Head of Global Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer. Novartis Pharmaceuticals is a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company.   John Tsai’s career as a physician, and now as Head of Global Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer for Novartis, had an unlikely…

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed

City of Montgomery, Alabama Faces $25,000 State Fine for Changing Street Named After a Confederate Leader

Despite a state law designed to “protect” longstanding Confederate monuments and memorials, the city of Montgomery, Alabama, has decided that it would rather incur a fine than continue going on with a city street named after President of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865, Jefferson Davis. Kim Chandler of…

Global Diversity

Despite Massive Uptick in Global DEI Initiatives, New Study Reveals Real Change in Corporate Workforces Remains Slow 

Even though DEI as a business imperative continues to grow both in the United States and around the world, a new study has found that many business leaders and executives have merely raised awareness of why diversity, equity and inclusion is important — as opposed to actually making meaningful progress…

Novartis Collaborates With Microsoft To Innovate Medicine Through Data and Artificial Intelligence

Originally published on LinkedIn. Novartis Pharmaceuticals is a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company.   “We are not just discoverers. We actually create molecules that have never been made before.” Says Karin Briner, Head of Global Discovery Chemistry at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR). By collaborating with Microsoft and augmenting the expertise of our…

Mastercard Announces Launch of Crescent City Card Program in Partnership With New Orleans and MoCaFi

Originally published at Mastercard ranked No. 5 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell was joined by executives from Mastercard, Mobility Capital Finance, Inc. (MoCaFi), and Forward Together New Orleans to announce the Crescent City Card Program. The program involves a…

Mastercard on Supporting Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Development by Expanding Its ‘City Possible’ Network

Originally published at Mastercard ranked No. 5 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Mastercard has continued to expand its support for addressing urban challenges and inequalities, working with city leaders and partners around the world, through the City Possible™ network and capabilities. The unique solutions…

Rep. Ilhan Omar

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert Makes Anti-Muslim Comments Against Fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota

Following the horrific example of Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, who posted an animated video depicting the killing of his congressional colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another member of the House of Representatives has made a similarly vile attack on a co-worker based purely on her religious beliefs. James Anderson of the…

Pinterest app

Pinterest Enacting New Company-Wide DEI Initiatives Following Gender and Race Discrimination Lawsuit

Following a lawsuit led by the General Treasurer of Rhode Island, social media company Pinterest has announced that it will be enacting a series of new diversity, equity and inclusion workplace reforms to settle a recent lawsuit against them. Patrick Anderson of The Providence Journal reported that “the reforms are…