Women continue to work for less pay

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Males are consistently paid more than females for same-level agency positions at non-strategic management levels, according to the salary survey.

Even when females numerically dominate the position -- media director, lead account planner and account executive -- they receive less pay, information tallied by Irwin Broh & Associates determines.

Men are favored in pay in most sizes of agencies (by gross income), although the gender pay spread tends to be widest in the smallest and the largest agency size categories. Greatest gender pay parity occurs most often in agencies in the annual gross income range of $3.7 million to $7.5 million.

The survey doesn't tackle issues of mobility such as age, marital status and young children at home. "Mobility is key to higher pay for men than women," says Sara Jones, chief financial officer at Sawyer Riley Compton, Atlanta.


Interviews for the survey found one agency in the South negotiating to hire a man for a post that would carry the same title and responsibilities held by a woman employee. The man, who is single, is from the East where he currently is paid more than the woman peer at the shop. The woman is a mother with young children and has risen through the ranks. The agency's plan is to offer the man slightly less than he wants and increase the woman's pay. "But if he doesn't take the lower pay, then we'll have to let him walk," says an executive close to the proceedings. The use of marital status and children to determine hiring is illegal, "but you can't help but hold them in the back of your mind if you have knowledge of them," says the executive.

At higher management levels -- CEO, chief financial officer and creative director -- women receive less pay except for the CEO post. In fact, among all other positions, the CEO post is offering the greatest improvement in pay for women from previous years. CEO salary for women in 1999 is up 30% from 1998.

For males, the media director post is rising the fastest in pay, their 1999 salaries climbing 15% or more above 1998 levels.


Among account execs, women outnumber men 2.4 to 1 and are paid an average of $5,000 less than men. Fifty percent of the women and men both fall in a salary range of $40,000 (or less) to $60,000.

But by region, the Midwest's 50% range for women tops out at $40,000, while for men it remains $40,000 to $60,000. Agency size is a slight factor with the largest salary spreads between genders favoring men in the smallest and largest agencies.

Both the East, which carries the highest pay for both sexes per position, and Midwest (lowest paying region) influence national averages in male-female pay.

For lead account planners, women outnumber men 1.6 to 1 and are paid an average $12,000 less. The Midwest is partly the culprit here. Fifty percent of women in the region are paid $40,000 to $60,000, and half the men, $40,000 to $80,000. The Midwest is home to 31% of lead account planners in the survey and 38% of women.


Agency size seems to make a difference in the gender pay disparity of management supervisors. Men get an average $6,000 more than women. That spread would be much greater if results from the largest agency size ($45.1 million-plus gross income) were tossed out. In these agencies, women are paid $10,400 more on average than men. Some 35% of men and women management supers are in this largest agency size in the survey.

Only in the next rung down, agency size $15.1 million to $45 million gross income, was the spread of $4,600 favoring men less than the all-agency gender spread of $6,000.

Women media directors outnumber men 1.8 to 1 and are paid an average $12,000 less, their 50% salary range falling between $40,000 and $80,000, compared to men's, $60,000 to $100,000. Totals are weighted by agency size $7.6 million to $15 million gross income where men average $32,000 more than women. That agency size accounts for 21% of the male media directors and 14% of females.

Most employers will say women in general are more disciplined and have better organizational skills than men, qualities ideal for media directors. More typical, too, is the woman media director who rises through the ranks rather than skips to another agency to gain that title -- hence, a reason for lower pay.


"Male media directors arrive with higher pay from other agencies than what comes on a longevity platter," says an executive responsible for hiring.

The East props up the overall average for media directors. There are 15 men and 17 women media directors pulling in $100,000 or more. No other region has more than six men or women at such a salary level.

The associate creative director position carries a gender spread of $23,000 favoring men, virtually equal to the $23,400 gap between men and women in the smallest agency size -- the most-populated agency size for this position among women.

Associate creative directors would best gain employment at agencies in the $45 million or more gross income tier. In this category, men average $130,500, and women, $125,000. In the survey, 45% of male associate CDs and 20% of female associate CDs are in this agency size.

Among all job functions, salaries between the sexes are closest for copywriters, probably because the position is not a supervisory role and often entry-level.

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