One of the biggest fights of the feminist movement is the fight for pay equality. On average, women only make 78 cents to every dollar earned by a white male. But did you know that women of color make EVEN LESS than that?
Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous. These women are making less money not only because they are female, but because they aren’t white. This is a significant issue. Just fighting for equal pay for women is not enough. We need to highlight women of color in our fight for equal pay because they are faced with an even larger gap in their ability to earn a fair wage. Bridging the gap in pay between white women and women of color would be a step in the right direction. Once that gap is closed we can focus our energy and efforts on ensuring that ALL women make the same as every white male (unfortunately, African American and Latino men make less than white males too, and that is another battle in itself that we should all fight).
Because we are the generation who are going to and NEED to fix this problem. It all starts with us. In a few years we are going to be entering the workforce and in one way or another we will all face this problem. So what can we do about this? Here are some things we can do now to end this wage gap once and for all:
- Talk about salaries
Yes, it may be uncomfortable to talk to your colleagues about how much they are making. I’m not suggesting that you should go to your male co-workers and ask how much they are making, then go to your boss and complain that you are making less. This will get you nowhere. Talk to your male colleagues who do the same work as you. Let’s say you are both journalists at a media company. If you are in the same position, politely ask about his salary. Only talk to people you know somewhat well who will be comfortable discussing this. Also, ladies should talk to each other about salaries. If you are a woman of color and find out you are making less than a female colleague because of race, raise this issue with your human resources department. We need to work together to end this wage gap and be open about the inequalities all women face.
2. Don’t Settle for doing the office “housework”
Unfortunately, some female workers are stuck doing the office “housework” (copying documents, faxing documents, etc). If you find you are stuck constantly doing this (and it is not part of your job description) raise the issue with your manager and ask that these duties are shared more equitably amongst your colleagues in the department. You should not have to do the jobs males do not want to do. Bringing up the issue and not settling for these menial jobs just because you are a woman sends the statement that you are just as important as your male colleagues and that your time is just as valuable.
3. Demand Certain Benefits
Did you know that having a child hurts a woman’s career? I have heard from multiple women about how they hid the fact that they had children in order to get a job. When a child is sick, women are usually the parent to leave work early. Leaving work early is never good, even if you are doing it to go help your child. If more companies offered child care or allowed for parents to have child sick days or work from home, much more work could be done. It would benefit the employee as well as the employer. Paid maternity/paternity leave is also needed, because then women will not have the risk of losing their jobs or being paid less because they had a child. Offering paternity leave helps alleviate the amount of time the mother must be out of work to care for the baby. When companies offer paid maternity/paternity leave they generate more loyalty from their employees who will then work even harder to ensure their company’s success. It’s a win-win situation.
These are just some things that everyone can do to help end the wage gap. Women work just as hard if not harder than men and we deserve to paid equally for it!