The Equal Pay App challenge: Good, Frustrating

Challenge.gov recently announced the Equal Pay challenge, to create an app that helps publicize and correct the pay gap between men and women.

1) Good.  Though some people will dispute that the gap exists, the science is pretty clear and most of the academics I know won’t dispute that this is a serious problem.

2) Aggravating.  We created GetRaised.com more than two years ago to help correct for pay gaps, particularly ones that affect women, by encouraging people to ask for raises and making it easier to do so (removing inhibiting pressures).

Women don’t ask for raises as often as men and they are less likely to get them, in part because they tend to make emotional appeals rather than business-oriented cases for why they deserve a raise.  We spent months designing and building a product that does more than just connects the data points: it is custom-designed to get women to ask, successfully, with follow-through.

And it works.  More than 70% of the time, if women hand in a GetRaised letter, they get a raise.  And the average raise is over $6,500.

We’ve had great press coverage, which I’m truly grateful for, and we’ve helped thousands of women.  But considering the site is free, I always wish that more people were using it.  Here we have an already built, highly effective solution waiting, which we could barely get the Department of Labor to talk to us about, and meanwhile they feel the need to create a challenge to produce exactly that.

I’m in favor of more apps, if they are effective and can help women get raises, and any light that is shined on this issue is good.  But I’m having an attack of frustration that I think many entrepreneurs who are more product than marketing focused often feel.  The frustrating moment where people say “I wish there was a product that…” and you want to scream “THERE IS!!!”

Side point: why the heck isn’t someone in the government looking around for free solutions to the problems they want to solve, and throwing their weight behind them?