The Gender Wage Gap; Please Pay Her!Please Pay Her!
There are currently more women enrolled in college and in the work force than ever before. If this is the case, then why aren’t there more women holding high-level positions in companies? Why are women paid 75% of what their male counterparts receive? As a member of the next generation of working women, these are questions that I consider especially important. It’s time for us to stand together and change the existing pattern for working women and equal pay rates.
Historically, women have always been fighting for equal rights. While the Women’s Equality Movement began in 1848, women didn’t receive the right to vote until 1920, with the passing of the 19th Amendment. This was a huge victory for the movement, and a sure sign that women today, who are armed with 21st Century knowledge and technology, are more than capable of standing up to outdated salary norms.
Over the past year more and more notable women have been speaking out regarding this issue, beginning with Patricia Arquette, as she received the 2015 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. After thanking her cast and crew, Patricia went on to say, “To every woman who gave birth. To every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” The audience was brought to their feet, and social media newsfeeds were filled with messages of support and encouragement. Following the Academy Awards, Patricia Arquette collaborated with Kamala Lopez to produce the documentary film, Equal Means Equal, which focuses on women’s issues and the way women are viewed in society.
In June of 2015, actress Meryl Streep sent letters to members of Congress, asking them to continue to consider the Equal Rights Amendment, which includes the guarantee of equal pay for women in the workplace. She wrote, “I am writing to ask you to stand up for equality – for your mother, your daughter, your sister, your wife or yourself – by actively supporting the Equal Rights Amendment”.
More recently, Jennifer Lawrence wrote an essay discussing gender inequality, stating that if we want to see change unfold over the next few generations, our voices must be heard. Her essay suggests that we might also focus on changing the stereotypical way that our society views women. Jennifer says that there is a conflicting view of leadership vs. being a nurturing woman; why can’t we be both? Why do we have to choose?
A few years ago I was invited to attend a Board of Visitor’s Meeting at the Miss Hall’s School in Massachusetts. The topic was female leadership, and included a 45-minute documentary film, “A Seat at the Table”, also produced by Miss Hall’s School. Six students interviewed top female leaders, like Irena Chang Britt, the Senior Vice President of Campbell Soup Company, Kirsten Gillibrand, New York State Senator, and Tiffany Dufu, President of The White House Project. While some of the statistics about females in the workplace are disheartening, the film is very well done, and many of the women interviewed share similar opinions to Jennifer Lawrence regarding how women are perceived in society.
The gender wage gap affects women of all ages, races and educational levels. Wage gaps send a message to girls that they are not as valuable, not as important, and not as capable. This simply isn’t true. As we enter an election year, I hope that our Presidential Candidates will continue to discuss Gender and Wage Inequality, and how they plan to encourage future generations of women and girls. I think it’s important for girls my age to continue the conversation of Gender and Wage Inequality, whether it’s on social media or in classrooms, in hopes of making a change. It is our future, our salaries and our livelihoods at stake.