In Meeting Professionals International's new salary survey, based on 1,139 MPI members' responses gathered last spring, gender pay differences stood out most dramatically. The average base salaries for men and women in the United States (for the 933 women and 97 men reporting) were more than $16,000 apart: $73,833 for men and $57,394 for women.

MPI researchers also charted men's and women's salaries based on their years of experience and found that the disparity gets worse as the years go on. For example, U.S. planners with three to five years of experience show salary differences of just 6 percent ($49,493 versus $52,680, in the men's favor). But the gap widens to 14 percent for those with 6 to 9 years of experience ($52,927 versus $60,154), and jumps to 36 percent for planners reporting 15 to 20 years in the field ($64,162 versus $87,445).

The male respondents in the MPI survey have education in their favor, which may be a contributor to the wage differences. They report having more formal education and taking more hours of continuing education each year. They are also more likely to hold an industry certification. Additionally, men were more likely to have a high-level position within their organization, and a smaller percentage of men than women spend all their time on meeting responsibilities.

MPI's comparison of association and corporate salaries made for some revealing reading. Association planners in the United States on average earn 16 percent less than corporate planners, with the gap starting at about 10 percent at the planner level and widening to 36 percent at the director level.

Independent planners were not well represented in the survey: Only 55 completed the salary information, and of those, 45 percent said they were their company's only employee. Overall, the average salary for independents was $66,309, with those with a title of president/CEO earning an average of $78,966.

For the most part, salaries among MPI members are not stagnant. Three out of four respondents got a raise in the six months preceding the survey. Of the planners reporting the amount of their increase, 43 percent earned a raise in the 3 percent to 4 percent range while 26 percent improved their salary by 5 percent to 9 percent.

For more information, you can visit www.mpiweb.org. However, if you participated in the survey, a complimentary copy is available from MPI.