Three myths about equal pay — and how we can close the pay gap once and for all.
There’s no question that the pay gap costs women and their families thousands of dollars every single year. It devalues the work women do — from minimum-wage workers to chief executives to the best athletes in the world. And it holds our economy back.
And yet we know that not everyone is convinced. There’s still a lot of misinformation out there — so let’s dispel the myths.
Myth #1: The gender pay gap doesn’t exist.
Some people believe there isn’t really a gender pay gap. That’s just wrong. The typical woman working full time in 2014 was paid 79 percent of what men were paid. Black women earned just 60 percent of what white men made, and Latinas earned just 55 percent. Last I checked, there’s no discount for being a woman. Groceries don’t cost us less. Rent doesn’t cost us less. And raising a family isn’t any less expensive. So why should women be paid less?
Myth #2: This is a women’s issue and men don’t need to worry about it.
Wrong again. If you’re a man married to a woman, this is your problem. When your wife isn’t paid fairly, your family loses out. If you’re the father to a young woman, or the son of a working mom, this is your problem, too. Plus, plenty of decent men care about this issue because they believe in fairness, and they know this isn’t right. It’s as simple as that.
Myth #3: Gender pay discrimination is already illegal and therefore not a problem.
Some may wonder why we’re still talking about this. It’s because it still takes place everyday. I’ll never forget the young man I met in New Hampshire who got a job working as a cashier right next to his mother. They were so excited — then he brought home his first paycheck. They opened it together and discovered that, after one week on the job, he was making a dollar an hour more than his mom. She had worked there for four years.
Yes, it still happens today. In 2016.
That’s why organizations like Glassdoor that promote transparency are important for helping women negotiate equal pay. It’s why we need legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act, so people won’t be fired or retaliated against for asking what their co-workers make. And it’s why we need to build on President Obama’s pay transparency rules that require companies to report their pay data. If you’re scared of people having more information, it’s a good sign you’re doing something wrong.
We know there are a lot of other reasons why women end up earning so much less over the course of their lifetimes. And if we’re serious about supporting women, we’ve got to take all of these issues on.
For starters, we’ve got to raise the minimum wage. Women make up nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers and two-thirds of workers in tipped jobs. These jobs are hard, they’re often insecure, and they don’t pay nearly enough. New York is leading the way on this issue, and it’s time for the rest of the country to catch up. Women all over America deserve a raise.
We also have to encourage more women to enter higher-paying fields, like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These were boys’ clubs for a long time, but today more and more women are venturing in. They’re contributing every day as innovators, inventors, tinkerers, coders, builders, and discoverers. And those good jobs mean better pay.
And we have to do more to support working parents, moms and dads alike, so they can stay on the job and keep more of their paychecks. It shouldn’t be punishingly expensive for new parents to take time off to care for babies. It shouldn’t be impossible for working parents to arrange their workdays so they can be there when the kids get home from school. And it shouldn’t cost so much for parents to afford quality childcare or for daughters or sons to be there when their aging parents need them.
Perhaps the biggest myth of all is that we can’t solve these problems. We absolutely can — if we summon the political will.
These aren’t just women’s issues. These are economic issues. Other countries are making it easier for women to be mothers and have careers — not out of altruism, but because they know that it’s foolish to let half the population’s talent and energy go unused. If America wants to compete and win in the global economy, we’ve got to make it possible for everyone to contribute to the fullest extent possible.
Here’s the bottom line. All people — men and women — should be able to dream big dreams and then follow them wherever they lead.
So this Equal Pay Day, let’s recommit to doing our part to make America a more equitable place.
Parents, teachers: Encourage our girls.
Bosses: Treat women fairly, and go the distance to support employees with family responsibilities.
Congress: Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Support paid family leave—New York and California have done it, and it’s time to make it the law of the land.
And I would urge everyone to keep these issues in mind when at the polls: Anyone asking for your vote should have a plan to address them. I’ve been fighting for these issues my whole life, and I’m not stopping now. This is too important, for too many people.
So let’s keep fighting — on Equal Pay Day, and every day — for girls, for women, and for families.
Contact John Assunto for all of your Education Recruiting needs! Johna@worldbridgepartners.com or 860-387-0503