The Boss Babe Blog
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Let’s talk about the “wage gap” for a moment. Some say it’s a real and discriminatory thing, others say it’s a ploy made up by liberals to distract Americans from legitimate issues. Women leave work to protest over it, and men demand to see women’s paychecks in order to honestly compare and contrast. It’s something that has been discussed, and recognized as a legitimate issue, on major news networks, as well as popular award shows and reality talk shows. So, what exactly is this “wage gap”, when did it become an issue, and what should we be doing to prevent it from affecting Americans in today’s society?
Well, the wage gap, according to a quick Google search, is a 20% gap between what the average woman is paid, compared to the average man, for the same amount and type of work. Now, that last part is extremely important, because many people argue that men get paid more because they are more apt to partake in dangerous or more difficult positions. That statement does have some merit, which we’ll discuss later on, but for right now, let’s focus on that 20%. Apparently, black and Hispanic women earn even less than white women, which means at least 21% less than the average male, and possibly more!
Since today is Equal Pay Day, and has been since 2010, proving that this isn’t a new issue, Google is showing their support for working women around the world by including a link at the bottom of their website to a YouTube video that is meant to raise awareness about the 20% gap. If you’re interested in watching this video, simply for reference purposes, you’ll find it listed below. It’s quite short, just over a minute long, and it’s slightly humorous, but it claims to carry a powerful message along with it. The caption clearly states: “This video from Funny Or Die, Hulu, and LeanIn.Org shows what life is like when you get 20% less—of everything. The video is funny, but this is no laughing matter. It's the reality women face every day because of the gender pay gap. Women deserve their 20% today and every day. #20PercentCounts. Learn more and show your support at leanin.org/equalpay”
So, we know what this so-called “wage gap” is, and we know how it obviously affects women of all ages, and across all different types of careers, but what do the reliable statistic say? Is this a real thing? Should we be rallying, or should we ignore the hype of it all? Well, there is no simple answer. Yes, the statistics clearly show that there is a difference between the pay that men receive and the pay that women receive. Yes, we know that women are capable of doing the same work at the same rate as men, whether they’d like to admit it or not. So, if women are so used to accepting unequal pay, why aren’t women being hired more frequently than men? Shouldn’t the companies want to hire women in order to save a dollar, much like blue-collar companies are hiring illegal workers because they’re likely to accept a smaller paycheck?
Well, yes that does seem reasonable, but there are actually laws put in place to prevent that from happening. In 2014, Former President Barack Obama signed into order the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act” that was meant to provide women with paycheck transparency and safer work environments to decrease the number of sexual assault and harassment cases taking place in places of business. However, President Donald Trump revoked this act on March 27th, making it easier for women to earn less than men and/or be sexually assaulted in their place of employment, because companies no longer have to maintain certain standards of business. So, the statistics are showing that companies are still using the loophole that they’ve been using since the Equal Pay Day was put into place in 2010…companies are hiring more men, but giving them more benefits and paid time off than their female counterparts. So, yes, their paycheck looks the same at the end of the week, and you’re more likely to walk past a man in the office than a woman, but when you do happen to walk past a working woman, take note that she has worked an average of 39 days more each year than her male coworkers, because women are not as highly regarded in the workplace.
That’s actually an interesting statistic, because many conservatives claim that the wage gap does exist, but only because women tend to work less hours than men, when that simply isn’t the case. Women are actually working longer hours, at the exact same hourly rate, but being rewarded with less paid time off, promotions, and other benefits that men receive. If that doesn’t seem fair to you, that’s because it isn’t. Especially considering that there are 6,000,000 more single moms in the United States than there are single dads. Regardless of whether they’re parents or not, it seems as though it would only be fair for women to receive more compensation than man, considering they are actually more likely to hold a college degree. According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of high school graduate women were enrolled in college, but only 61% of high school graduate men were enrolled in college. If education matters, and we’re constantly being told that it’s a requirement on job applications, then why are women receiving less promotions, less benefits, and simply less care overall…shouldn’t they be the more desired workers?
If you’re still rolling your eyes at this whole “wage gap” thing, or you just don’t think it’s important enough to protest over, consider this – In a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, 77% of women and 63% of men said “this country needs to continue making changes to give men and women equality in the workplace”. More men agree that women are being treated unfairly than disagree. That’s a major statement. This goes to show that the wage gap isn’t something that women are making up, it’s something that legitimately exists, and if a social group in our society is being treated unfairly, it’s probably a good idea that we attempt to remedy the problem instead of ignoring it or potentially making it worse.
Yes, women are more likely to take extended breaks from their career to focus on childcare or care of another family member in need, but why should this affect their ability to return to work with the same respect they had earned when they left, or to find a job after their caretaker days are over? Another valid question to ask ourselves would be “why do we stigmatize working mothers, and shame them for deciding against staying home with their child”? I’ve experienced this discrimination, first-hand. I watched a young mother be criticized because she stated that she didn’t want any more children until after college. She was scoffed at, because she stuck by her dream to pursue a college education. This stigma is damaging to the female demographic, and it’s one that needs to be done away with as soon as possible.
Another stigma that prevents women from pursuing higher-paying, male-dominated careers is that women can’t participate in certain lines of work. While women have been generally accepted as doctors and nurses for some time now, they’re still questioned and teased when they decide to pursue a career in technology, engineering, or the military. Is it ultimately the decision of the woman, whether or not she’d like to work as a nurse or a soldier? Of-course. However, her father, brothers, cousins, school friends, boyfriends, grandparents, uncles, and teachers certainly aren’t encouraging her by urging her to leave the “man’s work” up to the men. They aren’t fully supporting her if they’re encouraging her to take art class as an elective in place of shop class. The media isn’t inspiring young women to pursue STEM careers by displaying solely men on the job site in movies, books, ads, etc.
These are the questions we should be asking ourselves. Equal Pay Day isn’t about “why do women make less per hour than men”, because conservatives would be right on that account, they don’t. Equal Pay Day also isn’t about “Why do women earn less benefits than men, when they’re actually working more?”, because we know exactly why, and I’ve listed the reasons throughout this article. Equal Pay Day is about figuring out how to break the stigma that women are lesser or weaker workers than men. It’s about permanently implementing laws that will protect both men and women in their places of employment, because no worker deserves to feel like their company doesn’t care for their wellbeing, while they’re contributing to our society. Equal Pay Day is a day to encourage young girls to pursue the careers that they want to, even if those careers are STEM careers that all of their family members may not support them in pursuing. Equal Pay Day is a day to ask ourselves “how can we protect single mothers and fathers, as well as their job security”, or “why aren’t we encouraging men to take time off to bond with their child, as well as the mother, and why are we frowning upon the idea of working mothers when this is the 21st century and childcare is safer and more readily available than ever before?”.
Equal Pay Day isn’t something to scoff at. It’s not what you might have thought it is, and it’s not just another distraction concocted by liberals to distract you from “real” issues. Equal Pay Day is a day to set aside our insecurities and preconceptions, and encourage one another to kick ass in the careers that we love! It’s a day to review our policies, fight for equality, and laugh at the stigmas that generations before us have created. Equal Pay Day means equal pay for women, equal pay for single fathers, equal pay for different ethnic groups or backgrounds, equal pay for age groups, and equal pay for everyone that’s doing the same job as someone else, ensuring that they receive equal benefits and opportunities, as well.