The female employees of the State Department are now expressing their concerns that the new incentive meant to encourage professionals from high-paying industries to join the public service. The plan stipulates that the newcomers would get a hefty increase in their starting wages that follows them throughout their career.
Although the idea looks good on paper, it has already drawn a wave of criticism from the gender pay experts. In their view, the new incentive is highly likely to benefit men who would get higher remuneration for the same time of job as their female counterparts.
Jenna Ben-Yehuda, the founder of the Women's Policy Network and a former State Department employee, commented there was numerous evidence the new policy could contribute to the existing wage gap.
According to her, it mainly applies to the positions within the foreign services, among others. Their current employees think the pre-defined internal career path and the requirement for regular relocation could affect the wage differences over time.
The critics of the incentive say that people in foreign service know each other and it is easy to compare their remunerations among each other. An anonymous foreign service officer emphasized it was not just a pay hit but rather a status hit.
Internal sources explained that the department has guidelines to determine the starting salaries of newcomers based on their education, qualifications and previous experience, placing them on a fixed salary scale.
Subsequently, there are options for extra pay within steps of that scale to match salary. According to people familiar with the matter, the differences between the lowest and the highest steps vary from $13,000 at the lowest end of the scale to over $40,000 at its more upper end.
The critics asserted that the policy hurts female employees by establishing existing discriminatory gender pay structures through the state's codified framework mentioned above.
This way, a woman with 20 years of experience in the foreign service, may still earn significantly less than her male colleague who started at the same time, fulfilled the same positions, promoted the same number of times, and got the same evaluations just because she came from a lower-paying job in a lower-paying industry.
In Ben-Yehuda's opinion, that initial entry is the key as it is vital for setting up a path on which the further career development depends.
She also disagreed with the diplomatic corps' efforts to attract candidates from high-paying industries. In her view, it would be more beneficial if the department looks inside of Washington DC and turn into the diverse communities that represent the country.
For instance, it could focus on attracting first-generation Americans or first-generation college graduates, suggested Ben-Yehuda, highlighting that the country does not need only tech workers but a blend of all that America has to offer to represent the country across the pond.
Do you agree that the new government incentive is harmful to women?