She Works Hard for the Money

Photo by NeoGaboX via FlickrHappy Equal Pay Day…or rather (Un) Equal Pay Day as Linda Hallman on Huffington Post called it.  And she’s right; nothing could be further from the truth.

Women earn 77 cents to every dollar a man makes.  African American women earn only 72 cents and Latinas 60 cents for every dollar.  According to Evelyn Murphy, president and founder of The WAGE Project, the gender wage gap costs a woman between $700,000 and $2 million over her lifetime.  Now if you’re thinking that women certainly must get paid the same wage for the same positions as men, that’s just not so.

President Obama’s first bill that he signed in office in January ’09 was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, landmark legislation that addresses wage discrimination.  Named after Lilly Ledbetter (a sweet, humble woman I met briefly at a conference last year), who was discriminated against by her employer, Goodyear Tire.  For nearly 20 years, she worked in a managerial position, making substantially less money than her male colleagues in similar roles.  When she discovered the wage discrepancy, Ms. Ledbetter fought for compensation for all those years, eventually going before the Supreme Court, which unfortunately, ruled against her case.  She never saw a dime.

Thankfully, the law now protects women from wage discrimination.  But this doesn’t automatically mean women’s and men’s wages will be equal.  Studies have shown that women not only negotiate less than men for more pay but that they are penalized when and if they do.  Harvard professor Hannah Riley Bowles and other researchers found that women perform better as negotiators when advocating for an increase in pay on another colleague’s behalf than they do when asking for themselves.  Networking is vital to financial and career success; we should indeed support one another and foster relationships.  But we also need to value and advocate for ourselves.

As financial guru Suze Orman says in her book Women and Money:

When you devalue what you do, it becomes inevitable that you – and those around you – devalue who you are…You need to take yourself off the For Sale rack.  Once you learn to respect your right to be fully valued, you will find it easy and natural to ask the world around you to respect that value.  You set your price and the world will meet it.

So c’mon, Ladies…be sure to value who you are and go get what you’re worth!

6 thoughts on “She Works Hard for the Money

  1. The irony here being that if Megan herself walked into the office of her boss (at one of her jobs, that is!) and asked for a raise, she’d be instantly fired – by a woman. And if she went over her boss’s head to appeal the firing, her boss would be supported – by a woman. The moral of the story? No, it’s not that women are A-holes! It’s that retail sucks.

  2. It’s unikely Megan would be fired, simply for inquiring about a raise, so i’m lost regarding Steve’s logic.

    Here’s something even more troubling:
    Why is Kate Gosselin famous?
    I’m all for celebrating women, but please tell me what has this woman done, to warrant the insane amounts of coverage & support that she gets?
    She has eight kids…who gives a flying F***?
    Why are we, as this culture-deprived society of baboons, texting her every move on, “Dancing with the stars?”
    Why is there even a television show called, “Dancing with the stars?”
    Why do we watch it?

    Okay, rant over.

  3. Steve, you actually have a point (even if it is masked in humor). I find that many women in leadership positions don’t support the women that they should be mentoring.

    Can I intersect race into this topic for a moment? As an African American woman who works with mostly white women, I know that despite the fact that we all have va-jay-jays, it’s different for me. I have more education and experience than half the management team at my job. You think I can successfully get a promotion and be paid/valued equally? HELL NO!

    Megan, this is a great topic but there are layers to it. While white women get paid 77 cents on the dollar, they are surely doing better than all the rest of us.

  4. @Steve, you do make a great point…retail and other industries too often don’t have a structure in place to support advancing women.

    @Sarah, wise words.

    @Cocktails and Cognac, you are 100% correct. I’m so glad you raised this point! We can never forget how gender, race and class all intersect and affect each issue, hence the reason I included how African American women and Latinas face an ever larger wage gap than white women. As you said, women of color face an even greater uphill battle than white women, unfairly needing twice the education and experience in order to compete. Our society preaches equality and democracy, but we have a long way to go before we achieve an even playing field.

  5. Pingback: Working Girl: Why Women Still Aren’t Paid or Treated Equally in the Workplace « The Opinioness of the World

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