Undoubtedly, one of the biggest contributors to the wage gap is that fact that we've been programmed by the patriarchy to believe that talking about money is impolite. But with a lack of education, community, or resources around what a reasonable salary is for any given position, inequality festers. Of course, there are certain websites that try to track that information, but Google is doing what Google does best and compiling all that data in its own jobs search engine. Google Jobs is adding a salary estimator, along with a few other useful tools, in a revamp to the search engine it created for jobs earlier this year.
In addition to the salary estimator, the location tool will also get a reboot. Users can now target their search radius to anywhere from 2 to 200 miles surrounding a particular location, or search "Anywhere," as opposed to only being able to search by city. Google Jobs will also begin letting users know all the employment websites on which a particular job is listed, allowing users to choose though which site they apply. Plus, users will now be able to bookmark Google Jobs listings, which the search engine will compile in a separate tab that users can access from any device. Google Jobs is already way more attractive and intuitive than other jobs search engines, simply by virtue of its Google roots, but these updates really give it an edge.
As for the salary update, for those companies that do provide a salary in their job descriptions, Google will list it directly in the search results. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of job listings disclose salaries. For the other 85 percent, Google will provide estimates from Glassdoor, PayScale, LinkedIn, and other resources in a job's description. These sites also take into account the location of a position when calculating salary estimates.
This is a boon for leveling the playing field, especially among marginalized people who break into career fields against the odds, but take a pay hit in the beginning due to lack of experience, education, or formal training. Those early salary deficits, often compounded by things like dropping into the work force in the middle of a recession, the abysmal pay in startup culture, and other inherently classist, racist, and misogynistic hiring dynamics, add up over time, leading women, people of color, and queer folks to be woefully underpaid in their fields. And because we're conditioned not to talk about money, we often never learn just how unfair our salaries are unless by accident. (In a recent episode of HBO's Insecure, a black female law associate named Molly only learns she's making less than a similarly ranking white male associate because their paychecks get mixed up.)
New York City recently passed a law forbidding employers from asking potential employees about their pay history during job interviews, in an effort to curb underpaying. In 2014, President Obama signed an executive order forbidding federal employers from penalizing employees for discussing salary at work. Both of these strategies are crucial steps in restoring power to workers.
It's admirable that so many industries are attempting to diversify their organizations, and it's great that tools like social media are giving previously marginalized people a voice. But this also means that people are finding themselves negotiating at tables they've never been allowed to sit at before. Too often, those people feel pressured to accept whatever offer they're given and be grateful for it, even if it's wildly inequitable. Google Jobs' new salary estimator has the potential to empower those people with information they may not otherwise have the mentorship or resources to acquire.