Age, job duration, race and mobility are among factors that might shed more light on the disparity in gender salaries, but do not come with male/female responses in the AM&G survey. If they did, the texture and permeability of this barrier might be exposed.
As it is, negative pay enforcement for women, intended or not, seems lurking as big as ever beneath the surface.
EXISTENCE OF A GHETTO
Findings show the agency tasks that draw the largest number of women, indeed more women than men-media directors and account execs-have the widest pay gap between the sexes, a ghetto that not only may keep women from moving up, but moving out.
Media departments are the bastion of women, according to the survey. Of 145 media directors in the sample, 106 are women.
There is little gender skewing by agency size. Of female media directors, 75% come from the smallest shops and 88% of those women make less than $50,000.
Proportionately, the number of men and women media director responses on a geographic basis are equally dispersed, although because of their fewer number, male salaries distort pay on a regional basis.
The Midwest is the one exception. The region contains the most responses for men (14) and women (38) media directors, and their salaries are the lowest among regions. Male media directors in the region average $59,000 base pay and women $46,000, or 78% of male pay.
ONE SMALL VICTORY
Among account execs surveyed, women outnumber men two to one, and claim only one victory: In the second smallest agency size-$3.7 million to $7.5 million gross income-women average $1,000 more than men. But then the AE post is the lowest-paid among positions surveyed regardless of agency size and region.
Women domination in the AE position is a phenomenon of the last 10 years, according to an agency CEO, noting it has to do with women remaining in the workplace longer.
Drawing on her hiring experience, she says "male AEs I hire have been AEs for nine or 10 years and come in at a higher rate than a new female AE who generally has been on the job two to three years."
Execs defer to the idea of gender-specific tasks, a fertile field for right-left brain study, to explain the movement of women into once male-dominated tasks. Men are as prone to ascribe task suitability to the sexes as women. "In general, we find women AEs do better than men in our field," says Robert Kuhar, VP-general manager and principal at Lena Chow Advertising, Palo Alto, Calif., who recently hired a woman AE and typically hires people with degrees in chemistry.
EGOS IN CHECK
"As an engineer/scientist, I must pay close attention to detail. Women are better at this in agencies than men. Their egos are not as involved, either," he says.
A woman agency president who employs a woman media director says men aren't in the media departments because they haven't wanted to be there for years.
Her experience in hiring is that for every media position posted, 70% of the responses will be from females. "But men are beginning to return, but they have little experience and are fresh out of college."
That's sort of the way it was when women began to enter the agency business en masse.