New data shows the gender wage gap is widening. Census data shows that in 2015 the ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly full-time earnings was 81.1%, a decrease of 1.4% since 2014. This is the largest downward turn in 12 years.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 does not seem to be addressing the issue and just last year the Paycheck Fairness Act was voted down in the Senate. I won’t discuss the politics of this decision.
If you think the pay gap between men and women is because women work in lower paying jobs that isn’t the case. In fact, if you read through the data, the gap shows to be the greatest among the highest paying jobs.
Those who wish to deny the statistics argue that the pay gap exists because of education differences or life choices. Not so according to the statistics and analysis. We seem to have a deep rooted and healthy case of “gender stereotype” disorder. It depresses me a bit as I thought we were making better progress in this area.
Most, not all, of my male friends are feminists and most of the organizations I have worked for were aware of the issue and made efforts to address it. For me personally I believe I was one of the lucky women who was in an equal pay arena with men. However, I think I have had some unique circumstances during my working career. Friends and colleagues from a variety companies and industries tell a different story. It is quite outrageous to think that in 2016 a woman with the same degree and equal work experience would be paid any lower than her male counterpart.
This is certainly related to gender bias which is alive and well, but that’s for a future blog post.
I read a piece by the actress Jennifer Lawrence who talks candidly about this very subject and how personal it is to her. Worth the read. I have added it below.
Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co‑Stars?
By Jennifer Lawrence: as seen in the publication Lenny, October 14, 2015
When Lena first brought up the idea of Lenny to me, I was excited. Excited to speak to Lena, who I think is a genius, and excited to start thinking about what to complain about (that’s not what she pitched me, it’s just what I’m gonna do). When it comes to the subject of feminism, I’ve remained ever-so-slightly quiet. I don’t like joining conversations that feel like they’re “trending.” I’m even the asshole who didn’t do anything about the ice-bucket challenge — which was saving lives — because it started to feel more like a “trend” than a cause. I should have written a check, but I fucking forgot, okay? I’m not perfect. But with a lot of talk comes change, so I want to be honest and open and, fingers crossed, not piss anyone off.
It’s hard for me to speak about my experience as a working woman because I can safely say my problems aren’t exactly relatable. When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need. (I told you it wasn’t relatable, don’t hate me).
But if I’m honest with myself, I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. I didn’t want to seem “difficult” or “spoiled.” At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being “difficult” or “spoiled.” This could be a young-person thing. It could be a personality thing. I’m sure it’s both. But this is an element of my personality that I’ve been working against for years, and based on the statistics, I don’t think I’m the only woman with this issue. Are we socially conditioned to behave this way? We’ve only been able to vote for what, 90 years? I’m seriously asking — my phone is on the counter and I’m on the couch, so a calculator is obviously out of the question. Could there still be a lingering habit of trying to express our opinions in a certain way that doesn’t “offend” or “scare” men?
A few weeks ago at work, I spoke my mind and gave my opinion in a clear and no-bullshit way; no aggression, just blunt. The man I was working with (actually, he was working for me) said, “Whoa! We’re all on the same team here!” As if I was yelling at him. I was so shocked because nothing that I said was personal, offensive, or, to be honest, wrong. All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive.
I’m over trying to find the “adorable” way to state my opinion and still be likable! Fuck that. I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. It’s just heard. Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, and Bradley Cooper all fought and succeeded in negotiating powerful deals for themselves. If anything, I’m sure they were commended for being fierce and tactical, while I was busy worrying about coming across as a brat and not getting my fair share. Again, this might have NOTHING to do with my vagina, but I wasn’t completely wrong when another leaked Sony email revealed a producer referring to a fellow lead actress in a negotiation as a “spoiled brat.” For some reason, I just can’t picture someone saying that about a man.
Jennifer Lawrence is an Academy Award–winning actress.
I would love to hear your feedback. Have you experienced wage discrimination or gender bias? I think I will add this topic to my interviews for the Beyond Sixty Project. I bet there are some good references there.
Have a great day,