It’s the year 2016, and although there are so many ways in which we have progressed as a society, income equality is one of the many areas that still need to be addressed. Over the years I have attended quite a few workshops and events on this subject. Most recently by the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio who reiterated the sad realization that women are still being paid 79 cents for every dollar a man is paid and unfortunately that gap only worsens with women of color and mothers. Equal Pay Day is the symbolic day when women’s earnings “catch up” to men’s earnings from the previous year and this year that day falls on April 12th.
- The pay gap has barely moved in a decade and at our current pace, this issue won’t be remedied for more than 100 years.
- At every level of academic achievement, women’s median earnings are less than men’s. So more education is not a working solution to our problem.
- Women with college degrees are less able to pay off their student loans promptly, leaving them paying more and for a longer period of time than men.
In my opinion the wage gap is more complicated than blatant sexism and racism. It can be a much more subtle problem and the factors involved are varied and vast. This is because the types of occupations that exist are varied and vast. Just a few examples:
- In the types of fields where one can negotiate their salary, men may be more willing to demand a higher wage.
- Many high paying occupations are dominated by men and while there is a slow increase of more and more women breaking stereotypes and taking positions in engineering and science, there still needs to be more female role models in what some consider “male” fields. Whether there is real discrimination or not, sometimes the perception of discrimination is enough to turn girls and women away from certain fields.
- There is also the issue of women needing to take off work or switch to part-time in order to rear young children. This is a consequence of nature and something that will always be a major factor in whether a woman, who is also a mother, can keep the same career trajectory as a man.
What can we do?
- Push for salary audits in the workplace to proactively monitor gender based pay differences.
- Have workshops for girls and women to learn to negotiate for equal pay.
- Urge congressman to update the Paycheck Fairness Act which hasn’t been updated since 1963.
Events to attend in Columbus:
- The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio is partnering with the Columbus Museum of Art to present #WageArt on April 12th. This event goes all day long and it’s goal is to make the gender wage gap more visible. Women will be charged 78% of the normal ticket cost 🙂
- Closing the Gap: Equal Pay, Family Leave & Small Business Solutions. A panel discussion on equal wages and the effects on families Tuesday, April 12th at ECDI, 1665 Leonard Ave. Doors open at 6 pm
Let’s not wait until 2116 to finally get the equality we all deserve, let’s get out there and learn about how we can make that happen sooner.