Services like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Glassdoor and Indeed tabulate statistics, but those numbers can be outdated or, at best, a guesstimate of what an employee might expect to earn. Many unions, for their part, tabulate overall salary information, which is shared with members so they can better bargain for raises and equal pay. “You build trust by being transparent with your workers,” said Ms. Dolan.
There is no law that stops employees from sharing salary information, but myths persist at many workplaces that sharing is forbidden. “People feel like they don’t have the right to talk about salary,” said Caitlin Zaloom, a cultural anthropologist and associate professor at New York University. “That’s because managers want to keep salaries down and pay people less. It is easier if they control the information.”
She added, “Speculating about what a person makes can lead to a competitiveness that fuels poor morale.”
There are rules, of course, about what a company can share or even ask: In some places, including New York City, employers are no longer allowed to ask job candidates for their salary history, because it is thought to perpetuate pay gaps.
[From the Upshot: How a common interview question hurts women.]
In her column, Ms. Green said, questions about salary dominate, but she has no plans to further analyze the data she’s collected. “People have so much fear making a salary request, worried they are out of touch with the market,” she said. “That fear is bigger than being underpaid.” Women are especially concerned they will be penalized if they advocate too much for themselves, she said. But consider this: A woman working a full-time job earns 80.7 cents for every dollar a man makes, according to federal statistics.
“There is a massive hunger for information about how we figure this out,” Ms. Green said.