I wish that this article were being published in the midst of a controversy. The date on the calendar today is one that has caused much debate and controversy in our country. It’s Equal Pay Day, which symbolizes how many extra days a woman must work into the current year to earn the same salary as a man did in the previous year. In 2015, this problem still exists– why are we okay with this?

We at Levo were surprised and confused to find that there wasn’t more urgency surrounding this day. And when we looked closer, the facts were even more perplexing.

We conducted our own research and discovered that Millennial women no longer believe that the pay gap statistics—78 cents to the dollar to as narrow as 91 cents to the dollar—are accurate.

Unfortunately, the graduate pay gap between men and women is already seven percent before a woman even leaves business school. At Stanford, I discovered that the gap is closer to 21 percent. This was saddening, as I have nothing but gratitude toward this school for giving me some of the most incredible experiences of my life.

The longer a woman waits to negotiate her salary, the more money she stands to lose over her lifetime. On average, a woman who doesn’t ask for a raise in her first job will forfeit $431,000 by the time she retires.

Why is there still a pay gap between men and women? What’s the right number to discuss when it comes to this issue? Is the root of the problem structural, or do women need to change their behavior in order for parity? Oftentimes, we miss the point by getting sidetracked by these questions. The wage gap is a reality, and there are many reasons why it exists.

Institutions like ours can close the wage gap by evaluating ourselves to make sure we aren’t unknowingly doing it. Some companies are already on board, and because they proactively took a stand, we salute them. If your institution wants to join in being part of the solution, let us know so we can get you started.

As managers, if you’re not sure whether your management style is unintentionally encouraging negative behaviors on your team, we recommend this easy test.

If you’re a woman reading this, it’s time to start asking for more at work. Professional women need to learn how to raise their hands and ask for what they want throughout their careers.

On that last note, the research demonstrates that the wage gap is not just about money. We are seeing the surface manifestation of a deep-seated fear around being inconvenient or too aggressive and making the asks that we need in order to be successful.

We need to learn how to ask for things in order to close the wage gap, but we’re not progressing quickly enough. After surveying 10,000 of our Levo members (who are mostly Gen Y women early in their careers), we discovered that 95 percent had never asked for anything at work. Such as additional responsibility, mentorship, or a raise.

There’s a good chance you’re part of the problem, even if you don’t realize it. The key is to identify how you might be contributing.

If you want to be a great manager, consider taking this test.

If you have a leadership role in your company, think about how fairly responsibility and compensation are distributed to your most successful employees. By looking at the situation through a gender lens, we can see how perceptions alter.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, if you are a professional woman, you can see how much you should be making on average for your job and location. You can use this data to stack up against your peers. If only we were always rewarded for our great work and dedication, but unfortunately life doesn’t quite work that way.

Are you finding it difficult to request what you need or want? By learning how to share your successes, you will also be able to ask for help when needed. Follow this action plan that is suited specifically for you to develop the skill of asking. Stop waiting and take charge of your life!

Do you remember when we decided that having our workforce work for free 57 days out of the year wasn’t worth fighting for? Let’s take a throwback to those times and see what we can learn.

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