Mind the Gap
See this pic? It was taken by a colleague as another colleague of ours (who is a pretty inspiring gal herself) moderated a Town Hall discussion on equal pay with the President.
The President of the United States?
Yep. We go way back...
A massive honor. Huge! All politics aside, in my mind, this isn't a partisan issue. Yesterday was Equal Pay Day. Did anyone wish you a happy one?
That's because it takes a woman until April 14th of the following year (an 104 extra days "in the red!") to make what her male colleagues make in 365. Keep in mind, this is for doing the same work.
Put a different way, on average, a woman earns 78 cents to a man's dollar -- for women of color, it only gets worse. So at the current rate, women won't reach parity until 2058.
Will you still be working then? As much as I love my job, I certainly won't. You'll find me in a yellow mu-mu on a sandy beach under a very large straw hat drinking an ice-cold glass of Ensure.
But even if I do slog it out until I'm 100 and climb all the way up to the C-suite, today only 26 Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs.
That can't be right... right?!
To be clear, I don't believe in my heart of hearts that the companies of the world are actively conspiring against us. I doubt a bunch of old, wrinkly, white dudes sit in a sauna every Tuesday at 2 to joke about how little they can pay their women (except maybe at Goodyear).
I'm really not that cynical.
I DO think that women often start out making (accepting?) less. And then every single cost of living increase, raise or bonus they EVER receive represents a percentage of that number.
My number was $18K.
That's what I made nearly 20 years ago in my very first job in Parsippany, NJ, as an editorial assistant for a children's textbook company. And everything I've gotten since then has had to pivot off what was essentially less than a year's tuition. Back when college was still affordable.
And maybe I'm lucky! Who knows? But it was a loooong way to dig out.
So, this is the ONE piece of advice I give to every intern I meet: Get the most you can when you graduate, because that starting salary will factor into the rest of your career.
Now, people definitely dispute the 78 cents disparity. They say it's because women make choices to focus on family or education to achieve that elusive (impossible?) work-life balance. And that means they work less hours, so it's inherently not equal work and shouldn't be compensated as such.
Is that true?
Well, I can't speak for ALL women, but for THIS woman, who isn't making "choices" and IS betting everything on her career, I can think of no less than 3 companies I've worked for in the past where I was paid less and/or given less opportunity for advancement than my equally non-choosy (yet skilled, educated, and hard-working) male colleagues.
Equal pay SHOULD be for equal work! I'm not entitled to it, I EARN it every day. And I suspect you do, too.
But look at the positioning of the Town Hall today: Obama talks to Mommy Bloggers. Grrrr...
Sidenote: Not sure who decided that a female + a blog = the ultra-patronizing nickname "mommy blogger." Wait, did I have kids and I forgot? No, seriously. I even looked under the couch cushions. No kids here!
(And yes, that makes me sad, but that's a whoooole other discussion.)
My point is that woman doesn't always equal mom. (Does anyone call guys "daddy bloggers?" No, we don't, because it's dumb). And yet, most of the discussion on equal pay centers around how does it impact women and their families?
It's an interesting nuance, I think.
I feel like, as women, we don’t often allow ourselves to ask for things solely because they benefit us – especially at work -- be it equal pay, a raise, a promotion, or a day off. It needs to be qualified in some way. Necessary to support your kids, or for some other greater good, rather than because WE went to school and we work hard and we earned it.
Now, if you're still reading and are unconvinced this is a pretty serious issue, I've saved the best/worst for last. Go ahead and plunk your age and salary into this lost earnings calculator (and fellas, don't feel left out here -- if your lady makes less, so do you).
Thanks, Gap Inc., for advancing the discussion on equal pay -- how fitting! I will put my money where your pants are.
Then maybe someday, old bran flakes over here can afford to buy that house on the beach.
So, what say YOU? Is the pay gap a genuine thing? Or a gimmick? Share your 2 cents below...
tags: politics, rants, work