Answered by Susan, Hiring Expert at Praxair, Inc., on Monday, September 16, 2013
You ask an interesting question which is quite difficult to answer on a site such as Jobipedia.
First, I have to make some assumptions about your situation:
I assume you and the male counterpart you mention have the same educational background, number of years work experience with same/similar companies, and equal levels of responsibility as viewed by leadership (not as viewed by you), same certifications or special training, and same or equal behavioral attributes such as leadership potential, effective communications, ability to work with others effectively, producing results, etc. etc. I also assume you are working in the exact same geographic area, managing same kinds of workload, with same kinds of customers and challenges.
All items above are usually the reason for pay differntials, but people often do not look deeper and may just consider Job Title or Level, when in fact companies always will pay someone with more overall "qualifications" more than a peer who also happens to hold the same job title. Now, given the above, I'm sure there are instances in the world where "all things considered equal" there may be pay inequities.
The other piece to this situation which makes it volatile is that "pay" is an extremely private and confidential subject. Employers are not required to discuss employee pay scales with other employees (I'm sure you would not want your pay discussed broadly with your peers). Therefore, comparing yourself to another employee and reiterating what you believe to be his/her pay scale often is not seen in a favorable light.
I would suggest this approach: Leave the other employee out of the discussion and ask your HR Manager to explain your personal pay scales. Why you are paid at the level/scales you are, the company's compensation philosophy regarding pay levels, compa-ratios per years experience, etc.
Educate yourself on corporate compensation practices before you head into what may be an embarassing situation for you, should you be making inaccurate assumptions or come in unprepared or uneducated about a very complex subject.