I’ve always considered myself a feminist. I’ve never thought that was a derogatory word. I know some people do. To me, it just means equality for men and women. Yet, here it is 2015 and it’s an issue we as a society still struggle with. Webster’s dictionary defines it as the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. So why does the issue of the gender pay gap keep rearing it’s ugly head. I’m the mother of two daughters and I don’t want this to remain an issue when my girls venture out into the workforce. But I’m sure it will. And why are women criticized when we bring it up?
Most recently actress Patricia Arquette received backlash for her Oscar speech in which she declared “the older women get, the less money they make.” She said “It is time for us. Equal means equal”. A lot of people were put off by her speech saying a Hollywood actress who makes millions of dollars should not be complaining. But the reality is the gender pay gap does affect women of all races and socioeconomic status.
A group called the Center for American progress determined the inequality in earnings between men and women can end up costing her over a lifetime. And it’s not just a women’s issue, it’s a family issue. It found in 2010 the median full time working woman took home $10,784 less than a working man. For a lifetime of work, that translates to two houses, 14 cars or 37 years of family meals.
Just this week the Clinton and Gates Foundations presented a report that shows how far women have come and all the ways we are not there yet. One aspect was the gender pay gap and not just here in the US but around the world.
The gathering held in New York was called the “No ceilings Full Participation” event. It found women make less than men in every country and that not much is being done around the world on a governmental level to fix the problem.
Yet some people think this gender wage gap is a myth and doesn’t really exist. Some credit the difference to men going after higher paying jobs and that women often have to interrupt their careers to care for family members which impacts their earnings. I’ve always thought it was a good idea to share how much everyone is making at a company. I know that sounds crazy. But why not? Why should we hide our salaries? If we already know what our co-worker is making then maybe that will affect how employers dole out salaries to both men and women.
I decided to take an informal poll of female executives in the TV news business since that’s what I know. They all had one belief in common. When it comes to a gender wage gap things are getting better though it is still NOT equal. These women were in positions of power and knew how much people in their departments were getting paid. In some cases they discovered the male executives who they replaced were actually making more than they were offered when they were hired to fix the mess that was left behind.
These women agree the best way to fix this problem and to close the gap is to start hiring more female executives who will hopefully make the necessary changes. Search the internet and statistics are all over the place. Female managers over age 40 make 35% less than men. Women make 77% on average of what similar men make. In virtually every job category tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average woman earns less than the average man.
Here’s the bottom line: Yes, the gap is getting tighter but it still exists. We as women, minorities, rich or poor should be fighting to make sure that gap is finally closed. Close is not good enough. Let’s take a stand for our daughters, sons and our families. Don’t be afraid to keep speaking up for equal pay until it really is equal.
If you have a current example of the gender pay gap, please share it with me.