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Marketing Pay Survey: Results and Thoughts

Special thanks to data genius Anna Foard for her help analyzing the data and creating this Tableau data visualization.

It’s been repeatedly proven through statistical analysis that, across all industries, white women in the United States make an average of $0.79 for every dollar that their white male counterparts make. Women of color make even less.

Salary research in the marketing industry takes this even further, revealing that as of 2018, women in the industry earned an average of $141,784 per year, 33.6 percent less than their male counterparts.

The focus of a survey I sent out in fall of 2018 was not initially about this gap. However, the raw data received from female participants is revealing. Not only are women in marketing aware of this disparity, but a number of them – nearly half – are unsatisfied with their current level of compensation.

The Data

Click here to check out the responsive data visualization. The visualization below is just an image.

Marketing Pay and Satisfaction.png

The survey in question assesses the career and financial standing of 109 women working in marketing in 2019. These women were asked about their years of experience in the marketing industry, their current and previous positions, and - most notably - the difference in their level of compensation over the past five years.

Women’s Salary Rates

Current annual salaries for the survey-takers fluctuate between $28,000 a year and $170,000, with a few outliers on the upper end of the spectrum. The median going rate for women in marketing, regardless of years of experience, sits between $60,000 and $90,000 a year.

Five years ago, the median going rate for these same women had them making between $30,000 and $45,000 a year. Many of them were not making any money at all, as they were still in school, unemployed, or volunteering in different industries.

Men’s Salary Rates

Comparatively, the salaries for men in marketing fluctuate between $35,000 and $140,000 a year, with the average resting between $29,000 and $58,000.

Five years ago, these same salaries fluctuated between $24,456 and $105,000 a year for marketing-oriented work, with the average range sitting between $21,000 and $42,000.

Women’s Personal Satisfaction 

While the vast majority of these women’s salaries have increased over the past five years, 43.1 percent of female survey participants are unsatisfied with their current level of compensation.

Comparatively, 44 percent are satisfied, and 12.8 percent have mixed feelings on the matter. The women went on to note their received benefits in this survey, with some commenting that it was their benefits that made their level of pay more acceptable, even if it was lower than the industry standard.

Men’s Personal Satisfaction

Men’s salaries have also increased over the past five years. Compared to women, though, 62.5 percent of surveyed men in marketing are content with the amount of money they make over the year. However, 18.8 percent are discontent, and 18.8 percent have mixed feelings on the matter.

Like the women polled in this survey, all of the men who participated listed benefits that made their salaries more or less acceptable.

Some Thoughts and Takeaways

Both men and women in marketing have seen an increase in their salaries over the past five years, whether they operate individualized start-ups or if they work through an agency. Even so, nearly half of the women polled in this survey feel unsatisfied with their level of compensation. Given that the significant majority of their male counterparts do not feel the same away, this data appears to suggest a gendered divide that reflects overall discontent with wages across the United States.  

That said, the divide between that dissatisfaction and the 44 percent of satisfied participants isn’t too large, either. A mere 0.9 percent divides these two parties, with the 12.8 percent of women with mixed feelings sit in their own category.

Most of the dissatisfied women polled in this survey note they feel their level of compensation doesn’t match the work they do on a daily basis. Some attribute this to their position as contractors, while others cite the gender wage gap that’s plaguing more than just the marketing industry.

Concluding Thoughts

So the good news, then, is that it’s hardly a bad time for women to enter the marketing industry. Wages are on the rise and seem to be trending upward. The pervasive nature of the gender wage gap, though, and existing taboos that prevent employees from discussing their salaries with other employees, are keeping some women in wage brackets that aren’t satisfactory.  

This survey reflects an international conversation about wage, then, that it seems will continue to persist until there are significantly more women satisfied with their wages than there are not.

Carolyn Lyden