The Secret Truth About the Gender Pay Gap

The Secret Truth About the Gender Pay Gap
by Lisa Crocco
October 12, 2016
The wage gap is real. Period.
Plenty of people will try to convince you that the wage gap isn’t real. Those same people probably also deny that global warming exists and disregard a slew of other important issues. But anyways, back to the real issue here: the gender wage gap.

LET’S SEE THE STATS

First let’s talk about what a wage gap is. The pay, or wage, gap is a statistical indicator used to compare the earnings of women to the earnings of men. The comparisons are also broken down by race and ethnicity.

Here are some quick facts to help us understand current pay differences:
  • In 2015, on average, women made 20 cents less than men
  • Meaning that for every dollar a man made, women earned, on average, only 80 cents for full-time year-round work.
  • But wait it gets worse! African-American women working full-time, on average, earned 64 cents for every dollar a man made.
  • And it’s even worse for Hispanic women working full-time who, on average, earned only 56 cents for every dollar a man made.

HOW CAN WE AS A SOCIETY ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN?

Didn’t we pass a little thing called the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which required men and women in the same workplace to be given equal pay for equal work? Yes, yes we did. And didn’t we also pass another little thing called the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which prohibited sex-based wage discrimination in the workplace? Once again, yes we did.

So why do women have to continue to fight every day for their right to equal pay for equal work? Why do employers and society discriminate against women, especially minority women, when it comes to their wages?

Good questions. And there are many, many different answers.
Think of Oprah screaming and pointing to the workforce “You get equal pay, and you get equal pay, everyone gets equal pay!” Isn’t that a fantastic thought?

EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES

There are unnecessary hesitations and arguments standing in the way of closing the wage gap and allowing women to achieve equality. Some people believe that if we pay a woman a fair wage, then a man’s wage will decrease. This is simply false—wages are not a zero-sum game. There’s enough equal pay for equal work to go around. Think of Oprah screaming and pointing to the workforce “You get equal pay, and you get equal pay, everyone gets equal pay!” Isn’t that a fantastic thought?

Other people think that women simply do not deserve equal pay for equal work. Those people are also known as sexists. But for some reason, they think men work harder than women, earn more degrees, and pursue higher-paying careers. All of those excuses are false, BTW. In fact, women receive more college and graduate degrees than men. Women also work just as hard (if not harder).

People are also quick to blame women for their own pay disparity. You might have heard that because women go on maternity leave or don’t negotiate for higher salaries, everyone’s salary suffers. Also false. In fact, women ask for raises as much as men do, but get turned down more often. Also, women who have six years of experience earn less than men who only have two years of work experience.

Then there is a whole other group of people (as I mentioned earlier) who simply deny that the gender wage gap exists and is a problem. Watch this video to get some ideas on what to say to those pay gap deniers. There’s even Equal Pay Day every year to shed light on the pay discrimination and disparity.

Feeling depressed yet?

IS THIS GOING TO BE SOLVED ANYTIME SOON?

Unfortunately, that’s a big fat no.

The semi-good news is that we are slowly (and I mean slowly) moving in the right direction.

Researchers have predicted that women will not achieve equal pay until 2152. Which means that unless you have incredible genes and found an elixir to cheat death (if so, share with us), this issue will not be solved in our lifetime or our children’s lifetime. It’s not exactly easy to look forward to something that’s coming in 136 years.

In the meantime, we’re left with one solution: to continue to bring the issue to the surface.

Recently, you may have stumbled across some light hearted videos on your newsfeed on the wage gap, like Kristen Bell’s “Pinksourcing” video. Pinksourcing means women are a bargain at the workplace since you only have to pay them 77 cents on the dollar. And even though the video is funny, the underlying content is anything but.

Videos like this are essential. The more we talk about the wage gap, the more likely we are to spot it when it’s happening, which means more action will be taken to stop the discrimination.

We can all do our part to help close the gap. Because clearly, we have a long road ahead of us and a lot of work to be accomplished.
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Are you ready to talk about the wage gap?