The Road to Inequity is Paved with Good Intentions: Examining the Gender Pay Gap in Equity Awards - CLEO Skip to main content


Using novel compensation data from two technology organizations that have been recognized as leaders for their gender equality efforts, we show that even when organizations are taking active steps to reduce gender inequality (and thus, likely have the best of intentions), pay gaps between female and male employees continue to exist. Specifically, we find that although non-significant or comparatively small gender differences exist for more traditional forms of employee compensation, such as base pay and performance- based rewards (bonuses, commission), significant gender gaps exist for equity-based awards (stock and option grants). Our study thus is the first in-depth investigation to document that even when firms have learned to effectively reduce the pay gap for traditional forms of pay, within-job pay inequality may still exist for equity-based awards. We further begin to tease apart the reasons a gender pay gap exists for equity-based awards through qualitative interviews and subsequent empirical tests. Overall, our findings begin to shed light on a previously overlooked form of gender inequality in the workplace, and should enhance our ability to close the gap between women and men.