CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - New research shows women are still earning less money than their male counterparts.
Delaine Mead worked in corporate America for more than a decade before owning her own business.
Mead says she didn't experience a gender pay gap in the corporate workforce.
"I don't believe that in 2012 an employer in this country would pay less to a woman that they do to their male counterpart," said Mead.
"I believe that women are equally qualified if not more."
But whether you have experienced the gap or not, it does exist.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Women's Summit says women entering the workforce today will earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.
"One of the arguments we hear is that men are supporting their families, so it makes sense that women are getting less," says Co-Director Lisa Yarrow.
She says in order to earn more, women must be willing to ask for more.
When women continue to earn less, that shows up in their lifetime earnings - and their retirement readiness.
"The first thing is really to negotiate their salaries, to negotiate their benefits and to understand that even in this market men are negotiating for a salary," recommended Yarrow.
Mead agrees women need to be more assertive. But she also says women end up behind when they leave the workforce for any period of time, including to have a child.
"So whether there is an elapsed amount of time of six weeks, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, or a decade that we are out of our employment, out of our career track, and in that time frame, our male counterparts continue to climb," said Mead.
Earlier this year, the equal pay legislation came up in Congress, but it did not pass.
That legislation would have given women the right to actually seek legal and financial remedies if they experienced a gender pay gap.