Show Us the Money!
Tomorrow, April 14th, is Equal Pay Day in the United States. It is the day in the year when women will have earned as much as men earned by December 31st of the previous year.
As it is, on average women earn .78 cents for every dollar earned by a man. For instance, if you were digging a hole next to a man, and you both dug a hole with the exact same measurements in the exact amount of time, he would be paid $1 and you would be paid .78. On average. Sure, there a few women earning what men earn for the same work and there are many women earning far less.
In an article written by Diana Furchtgott-Roth for Marketplace published today, she concludes that feminists are over-reacting, and over-reaching with this statistic. Having pointed out that women earn more degrees and take less physically strenuous jobs, she concludes her article by saying that women in the U.S. are actually doing better than men. To quote: “… Women in America are doing better than men.”
Ahem…did I really just read that?
True. In 1995, women began to surpass men in earning bachelor degrees. According to a US News article published October 2014, “Women are fast becoming our most educated workers – they are attending school at higher rates, and they are entering a wide range of careers and deepening their work experience,” an accompanying fact sheet on the report says.”
True. We are also moving ahead in occupations traditionally dominated by men: doctors, lawyers, scientists and professors – all fantastic achievements.
However, even in those fields women, on average, make .78 for every $1 a man in that field earns.
How is that possibly doing better than men?
It is easy to point to all sorts of reasons why a pay discrepancy exists, and why there are people alive in the 21st Century who believe women should be fine with not earning as much. Be the reasons political, religious, cultural, or economical, the truth is there is absolutely no reason a pay discrepancy should exist.
None. Nada. Zero. Zilch.
Whatever the reason, it is just an excuse. And there is no excuse.
GUM BALLS AND MATH
One day, my 9-year old son asked me what it meant that girls are paid less than boys. I explained to him using the above hole-digging metaphor. I asked him how he would feel if he were paid less for his work simply because he was a boy. He wrinkled his brow, and asked, “Why would anyone do that?”
I could only answer, “There really is no good reason.”
Being the numbers kid he is, he said, “Well, where does that other .22 cents go? I mean, you can’t even buy a gum ball with that.”
But here is what becomes of that .22 cents.
If a man makes $7/hr, a woman working that same job would make $5.46/hr
With a 40-hour work week, she would make $218.40/week.
Working 52 weeks a year, their annual salaries would be $11,356.80 for the woman and $14,560 for the man.
The $3203.20 difference over a 40-year career without any raises (for simplicity’s sake) becomes a deficit of $128,128. How quickly .22 cents can turn into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
$128,128.00 put into a simple savings earning compounded interest over 40 years would be a game changer for a whole lot of us.
I find it hard to believe that there is a single father or mother out there comfortable with the fact that their daughters are earning less than their sons for the same work – especially when the quality is comparable, and maybe even sometimes better. Rather than putting the pressure on making sure their daughters get married to guarantee their financial security, imagine if all these mothers and fathers actually advocated for equal pay instead of marriage as a means to secure their daughters’ future.
Just a thought.
After all, equal earnings for equal work goes beyond how it stacks up in a bank account. How we value our daughters and the work they do translates into how they perceive their own value, and will inform how they relate to the people closest to them. A valued woman becomes a valued and valuable partner – not someone to take care of or control, not someone who needs to be taken care of or controlled – rather someone who is an active contributor in every aspect of her life and all her relationships.
Maybe April 14th could be the day that men are paid what women are paid for equal work. Maybe then we would see some action.
Of course, this is just my .02, I mean, .22 cents worth.
Let us know what you are doing in your community or in your professional life to change the wage disparity – we love hearing your stories!
If you would like to know more about equal pay day, visit the Pay Equity website, and see what is going on in your community.