This week’s Feminist Fridays post is another installment of the How Do You Deal series. Because there are certain issues in life and in feminism that are tough to talk about on our own, the HDYD series allows many voices the opportunity to share in these discussions, making it easier for us to talk about our beliefs, opinions, and feelings. Each month I ask contributors how they deal with an issue and we each share our thoughts on the matter. This month we are talking about the pay wage gap. Here are my feelings on this topic:
“While I have not yet been in a position where I work alongside cis-men who are paid more than me for the same work, I do have experience with my work being undervalued and underpaid. The majority of my work experience so far has been in childcare, either working as a Preschool Teacher or nanny. The amount of emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual work involved in caring for children never seems to match the pay you make. I have dealt with this by negotiating for higher wages and plan to continuing dealing with this issue by encouraging others in similar positions to do the same.”
Now let’s hear what my contributors had to say about the pay wage gap, and feel free to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments.
“Looking at this issue with a macro-focus is super overwhelming because it touches on all the misogyny that’s built in to just about all of our systems and our entire culture and on the ways we all, including women, are socialized to perpetuate that. On a personal level, I definitely don’t ‘lean in.’ That is one of the most toxic concepts to enter our culture in a long time. I don’t make myself flexible for a system that was built to be unfair to me. I speak up about ways that unfairness is currently inherent in my own workplace and advocate for changing that.”
“I’m an advocate of negotiating pay. (Especially as someone who recently finished grad school for journalism and watched a lot of her friends accept unpaid internships, which I refused and couldn’t afford to do.) I’ve done it on two separate occasions when it seemed reasonable and was surprised at how easily both employers agreed. It requires tact and understanding the value you have to offer, but it made me realize I had more power in my financial future than I’d thought with the simple act of asking. Of course, I was privileged in doing so—many people (women especially) simply don’t have a choice, and that’s why we’re still stuck with this crappy wage gap.”
“I touched on it a bit last time, but my frustration with the pay gap definitely hasn’t changed. While I’m glad that it’s going in the right direction, the fact that it’s still not equal just doesn’t make any sense. Why are two equally competent individuals being paid different amounts of money solely based on gender? I’m still in school at the moment, so I don’t think there’s much I can do about it yet, but I suppose learning to negotiate salary would be a good first step!”
“The hardest part, for me personally, when it comes to dealing with the fact that I–as a woman–make roughly 82 cents to the dollar of a man–is handling other people’s ignorance or apathy. When it comes up in conversation (usually brought up by me), it’s a nonstarter. The men don’t really have to address it and the women–especially women older than, let’s say, 40–just accept it. I sit there so confused: how can we either ignore it or accept it? I talk about it with women my age but we don’t know what to do except keep talking. It’s not fair; it’s not right; and it certainly doesn’t motivate me as a woman in the workforce.”
“We have dreams and we work hard for those goals we passionately scribble down in our journals. I may have the same degrees, the same experience, and the same drive but because I am a cis-female, I get paid less than my cis-male partner. What bothers me even more is that people of color are also being paid less for again the same work with the same skill set and framed degrees. Unfortunately, there is not much I can do to deal with it but get involved with politics. It’s time that these ‘pay rules’ are erased and should solely be based on WHAT I can do, not WHO I am.”
“The pay gap in the freelance creative world is often self-imposed, many women feel uncomfortable asking to be fairly compensated for their time, energy, creativity and in doing so, undervalue themselves and others. I see it in the many women willing to work for glitter, pennies, and exposure and in the women who create items to sell online who are charging little more than the cost of materials. It makes it difficult for the rest of us who want to earn a living wage through our creativity, so it’s a topic about which I post on a fairly regular basis. It starts with us, valuing ourselves and demanding to be valued and when we do that collectively we become the rising tide that lifts all boats.”
“All too often, women are told that the pay gap is our own fault. We often hear about studies or surveys that claim women don’t make as much as men because they are never brave enough to ask for a raise, or because women are naturally drawn to lower-paying jobs. It is important to remember that the wage gap in this country is an institutional problem, not the result of individual shyness or lack of ambition. That being said, there are a few measures that one can take in order to fight individual instances of discrimination. I encourage all women to do as much research as possible about the jobs they are pursuing. With the help of sites such as Salary.com and Glassdoor.com, you should know what the average employee makes at your desired place of work, and be ready to ask for that much (or more) at the interview. Additionally, female coworkers should support one another by being open about their earnings, and be willing to stand together if any discrimination does occur.”
So now you tell us: How do you deal with the pay wage gap? Do you relate to anyone above?