How To Explain The Wage Gap To People Who Just Don’t Get It
The wage gap… Ugh, we want to scream from the rooftops about the magnitude of this issue. The gender wage gap is a massive problem in society, as it means talented, hardworking womxn across all industries are doing the same work as men – but they’re getting paid less.
Yeah, it’s messed up. But what is the meaning of “wage gap”, you might be wondering?
The notion of equal pay is that two people, regardless of gender, should be paid the same amount for doing the same work. Despite the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which formally ended wage disparity based on sex, this is still an ongoing problem; the wage gap means that womxn are getting paid less than men, for doing the same work.
So who is affected by the wage gap? You guessed it – womxn, especially womxn of color, trans womxn, and those working in industries that are traditionally female.
We know you’re out there in the world, standing up for equality, so we need to warn you: sometimes you might come across someone (cough, cough, probably a man) who just doesn’t get why the wage gap is a big deal.
While you’d probably rather roll your eyes and walk away, here’s how to help people understand why this is such an important issue.
Does the wage gap exist? Hell yes.
“Wait, you’re telling me gals get paid less than men? There’s no way that’s still true.”
Yeah, unfortunately there are people out there who actually think this. Here’s how to explain the wage gap in a way that just might sink in.
Hit me with the facts.
One of the best ways to explain the wage gap is with cold, hard information. Here are some of the key wage gap facts and figures that might convince deniers to see the error of their ways.
- On average, US womxn are paid 82 cents for every one dollar paid to men.
- Over a year, this means men are paid $10,157 more.
- Even worse, Black womxn are paid 63 cents, Native American women are paid 60 cents, and Latina womxn are paid 55 cents for every one dollar paid to white men.
- The wage gap means that full-time women working in the US lose a combined total of more than $956 billion each year.
Reading those stats is like slamming your finger in a car door – it’s a shock, and it hurts, big time. Not only that, but researchers have found that the wage gap exists across all occupations, industries, and education levels. Why? Experts think the main reasons for the wage gap include bias and discrimination. Yuck.
If the stats above don’t convince someone to believe in the wage gap, we don’t know what will.
Take a deep breath and let them know where they can learn more.
The facts are sure to help plead your case, but it also helps to explain a bit of the background about why things are as they are. However, the thing is that the wage gap is really complex and nuanced – there’s not just one thing that causes it. Rather, it’s a systemic issue that can’t be quickly fixed with the flip of a switch.
There are plenty of resources online where men can learn more about the topic, so don’t feel like you need to take on the free emotional labor of educating men on why they shouldn’t be misogynist when it comes to equal pay. Instead, point them to some of these resources:
- Institute for Women's Policy Research
- American Association of University Women
- National Women's Law Center
All of these groups, plus many more, are doing groundbreaking research and advocacy on the issue of wage inequality.
Does 20 cents really matter?
Some naysayers may scoff at the stat of womxn earning around 80 cents to the dollar – who cares about a small difference of twenty cents?
Um, womxnkind everywhere, for one. But the issue is twenty cents adds up quickly. Over days, weeks, years, and decades, would you want to earn tens of thousands of dollars less simply because of your gender? We think not.
Ask doubters if they’d want their daughters, wives, friends, or hardworking womxn colleagues to earn less money. Any halfway decent humans will agree that they want their friends and family to have equal opportunity, regardless of gender.
Gender bias is real.
Another argument when it comes to the wage gap is gender bias. It’s a massive thing, both intentionally and unintentionally.
Gender bias is when management hires or promotes based on the mistaken belief that a man can do a better job than a womxn. As a result, fewer womxn get opportunities and raises. We also know that gender discrimination happens way too often in offices. The evidence shows that 42% of women have experienced discrimination on the job, due to their gender.
Gender bias and discrimination combine to create an atmosphere where fewer qualified womxn are being hired, promoted, or given raises. Often, hiring managers are men and hire staff similar to themselves.
Needless to say, this has to change. We need more glass-ceiling busting babes to change hiring practices for the better.
Childcare expenses are a b*tch.
Another reason that impacts the wage gap is that, traditionally, it’s mothers who stay home to look after children, rather than fathers. New mothers may take a few years out of the workplace, since exorbitant childcare costs often mean families are better off having one parent stay at home rather than paying through the roof for daily childcare.
However, this means that while a mother is staying at home with her little one, her male counterpart is out there in the workforce, climbing up the career ladder. When that awesome mom does come back into working life, she’s often at an automatic disadvantage from her time spent at home.
So that’s the wage gap in a nutshell, with all its sh*tty, undeniable facts. If anyone out there tries to argue that it doesn’t exist, use this guide to swiftly put ’em in their place.