Girl In-Powered: Here’s What You Need to Know About Equal Pay
Along with exposing an institution of harassment and sexism, the #MeToo movement has shined a white-hot spotlight on the gender pay gap.
Remember how much drama erupted after the news broke that Claire Foy, the leading lady of The Crown (playing the g-damn queen of England), earned less than her male co-star, Matt Smith?
You already know this issue isn’t exclusive to the entertainment industry. Unequal pay is happening to women across the country (and world), every day.
Let’s be real, you’ve likely experienced it yourself.
But to kick the sexist boys’ club to the curb, we first need to understand how we got here, and how pay discrepancy works legally. Then, we have to use that knowledge to advocate for/protect ourselves in the now.
Equal pay by the numbers (a refresher).
Equal pay by the numbers (a refresher).
Though the specific number fluctuates depending on race, class, education, and a host of other factors, the general stat we ladies cringe over is that women are paid 22 percent less than their male counterparts in the U.S. for doing the same job.
But it’s much worse than that.
If changes to the gender pay gap continue at the pace of the last 40 years, women won’t see equal pay until 2059.
And the situation’s even more dire for minority women. It would take until 2124 for black women to earn equal pay, and until 2233 for Hispanic women.
How the F did we get here?
The 1963 Equal Pay Act made it illegal for an employer to pay different salaries for the same job to two equally qualified people of different genders. So why are we having this conversation 50 years later?
Blame it on a technicality.
The law said that women were only allowed to bring a claim against an employer 180 days after the first unequal pay check.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t typically know about the pay discrepancies of a company I just started working at, let alone have enough evidence to prove something shady is going down within the first six months.
Oh, and did I mention the law didn’t require employer earnings data to be made available, or allow other proposed solutions to be enacted?
So it was (and still is) on women to do the research and demand their right to be paid an equal wage.
Here’s why the pay gap thrives (and how you can nav.it)
Reason 1: Our economy is based on profit.
Whether you’re the corner coffee shop or Starbucks, you need profit to stay in business, and making more profit often means cutting costs.
Since the biggest cost to a company is employee wages, many look for ways to pay employees less. Some companies even argue that it’s the employee’s responsibility to negotiate their wages, so if they accept a lower salary, that decision is on them (sound familiar?).
If you’re job hunting, seek out companies that are closing the wage gap.
Read reviews from other employees on Glassdoor, look up your market worth with tools like PayScale, and research the latest news about them to see if they’re on the right side of history.
Digging the gig you have but unsure of your employer’s gender equality policies? There are ways to ask and make suggestions tactfully.
Reason 2: Financial literacy among American women is abysmal.
In a recent assessment, only 22 percent of women answered basic financial questions correctly (yikes!).
Real talk, ladies: If we don’t understand our income potential, we will continue to fail at negotiation.
Consider this staggering statistic: Over the course of a woman’s lifetime, she could lose out on $500,000 to $1 million (some even say more) in earnings because she didn’t negotiate.
That’s the difference between retiring when you want to, owning a house (or two!), and building a wealth base that allows you the freedom to do things like travel the world (wink wink).
That means it’s time to get educated. While Wall Street whizzes may talk inflation, diversification, and compound interest in their sleep, there’s no reason you can’t at least get the gist of it.
(Hint: You can learn the 101 right here with Nav.it.)
Class is officially in session.