Updated: Jun 24
The gender pay gap is a stranger to no one. Although the Equal Pay Act was signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, the gap still stands, surrounding each and every one of us and extending to all corners of the globe. It silently hovers above us, however its repercussions are as strong as ever. Women are earning just 80 cents for every dollar men are earning. That means $513 billion is lost in wages for women each year. If we are all so familiar with this inequality and the disadvantages are clear, why aren’t companies taking more action?
What we know about the gender pay gap…
A stunning fact of this matter is that there is only one job where women earn more than men. That’s right, one. It’s as a wholesale or retail buyer and in this job women earn about $4,000 more on average. Though, the largest gap is in financial services where women earn $40,000 less than men on average. California boasts having the smallest pay gap overall, but there is still a $6,000 difference on average. Women, men, companies, and governments should not and cannot settle for a $6,000 gap.
Taking a look within 462 companies that include 19.6 million people during a four year study conducted by McKinsey & Company, it is clear that women are underrepresented. Additionally women of color are the most underrepresented group of all. When taking a look into managerial positions, women hold only 38% of manager positions and only 79 women will be promoted to a managerial position for every 100 men. These are facts that cannot be denied, so it’s time that change and action stop being delayed.
…and what we know about the awesome things women are doing
Although the gender pay gap still exists, that isn’t stopping women from fighting back. This past year, women spoke out on social media about their personal experiences with sexual harassment by using the hashtag, #MeToo. The #MeToo movement was impactful and necessary considering the fact that a shocking 35% of women in the American workforce and 55% of women in senior positions have experienced sexual harassment. This movement even reached Beijing, where software engineer Luo Xixi experienced sexual harassment first hand from her Ph.D. thesis advisor. Just like countless other women, she turned this tragedy into change. In just one day she gathered 3,000 signatures on a petition that asked her Beijing university for an anti-sexual harassment mechanism. Stories like Luo’s are the ones that are driving others to demand for more respect for women in professional settings.
Actions that we can all take today!
The data presented earlier makes it clear that significant action needs to be taken now and we can all do a small part that will make a huge difference. Just like with any other issue, writing to your state and local legislators can make a difference. Let your own voice be heard and together we cannot be silenced. Raising awareness is the first step towards action, so sharing articles and research that you find about the gender pay gap could be a strong step towards equal pay. Learning how to negotiate your salary could also be a direct and impactful way to combat the gap in gender pay. You can take each of these actions to make a better world for women tomorrow. It’s time that these facts about gender pay are no more, and it can start with you.