What is the Gender Pay Gap and why does it still exist?
A lot of progress for women's rights started on the streets. And feminist leaders like Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Simone de Beauvoir are icons of women's rights fighters and inspired generations of women to push, not pass, the baton of equality forward.
But the Gender Pay Gap fight is often a silent battle - taking place behind many boardrooms and desks.
Shall we uncover what's behind it and what women can do to be equally compensated for the same work?
What is the gender pay gap?
Put simply, it's the difference in income for men and women based on gender for completing the same role.
According to a 2020 study done by the Pew Research Center - women (in the U.S.) earned 16% less than what men earned in the same position - both for part-time workers and full-time workers. It would take an extra 42 days of work in a year for a woman to make the same amount as a man in the same role.
If this Gender Pay Gap doesn't change, the lifetime earnings (over a 40-year career) means that a woman in the U.S. will earn (just over) $407,000 less than a man. That's a massive difference in earnings!
Let's unpack in more detail why the Gender Pay Gap still exists and what are some things we can do for ourselves and our community to work towards closing the gap.
Why the Gender Pay Gap still exists
If we could pin it down to one main factor, that would be incredible, but unfortunately, the issue is complex, and with more layers than a big chunky onion.
Yes, some industries are more favored by one gender than the other. For example, the fashion industry has more female workers than construction, which tends to be a more male-dominated field.
But women tend to be overrepresented in lower-paying positions than in higher-paying roles which are more commonly dominated by men. According to the Center for American Progress (CAP), this could be due to gender discrimination and something titled a 'motherhood penalty’. The latter refers to women sacrificing work years to take time off or reducing their working hours to look after children.
Please note that this is by no means all the reasons, but just a few to give you a little snapshot. Keep in mind that this article is about American Women. In some non-Western societies and in minority groups, the Gender Pay Gap is even more significant. Still, we need to keep being open about its existence to change things nationally and globally.
What women can do to reduce the Gender Pay Gap
Unfortunately, it's not possible to close the entire pay gap overnight. But from little things, big things grow, and there are a few things we can do in our own lives to reduce the earnings difference and make sure we're paid an equal wage.
Here are a few!
Apply for a job you think you might be under-qualified for
In her book Lean In, Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg discusses how typically, women only apply to jobs where they match 90% + of the job criteria they see advertised, compared to 60% for men. Trust in yourself and apply for a role where you don't necessarily tick every criteria box. Companies are open and willing to train the right person - that's what training is for.
Negotiate a promotion, pay rise, or higher wage
She's On The Money author Victoria Devine points out that only 7% of "women try to negotiate salary when taking a new job, compared to a whopping 57% of men". Don't settle for the first offer you receive. The company chose you because you were the best fit for the role, so take a deep breath, get on the phone and ask if there's more money on the table.
Start talking about salary
Money still seems to be a taboo subject. If we start having more open and honest conversations with our friends, family, colleagues, and communities about salary, we can begin shifting the narrative. Money is not a 'dirty' thing (how it's often stereotyped) - it's a powerful and necessary tool to build a future for ourselves and our families. And women should be paid based on their level of skill and experience, not gender.
Invest in financial education and literacy
Knowledge is power. The more we know and learn, the more confident we will feel to step into a room and ask for a pay rise or speak up at a company meeting if you're being paid less than the guy at the desk next to you for doing the same job. A good starting place is the My Millennial Money, and She's On The Money podcasts for all things millennials should know about money.
It's important to be aware of the Gender Pay Gap to speak up and continue fighting for gender equality. Everyone should be paid based on skills, experience, and merit - not their gender.
As always, love the Easy Clothes team x
P.S Don't forget to also stand up for our friends in other minority groups, such as the BIPOC, LGBTQI+, and disability community who also experience income discrepancies. Together we can keep working to close the Gender Pay Gap.