The Unexpected Upsides of Unequal Pay
Another way to look at this complex problem
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this niche statistic, but in the United States, women on average make 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes. Pretty interesting stuff; very fun to think about. You also may not know that this little factoid has quite a bit of depth and nuance to it.
The Census Bureau suggests that the newest number might be 78 cents, for instance. It inches up to 82 cents if you look at weekly wages; 87 cents if you look at hourly wages. It drops down to 60 and 66 cents for Hispanic women and black women, respectively. Some point out that the 23-cent wage gap is based on raw, unfiltered data, and when it’s adjusted to include factors like occupation, tenure, education and time off, the gap closes to 6.6 cents. Others claim that to exclude those factors is to ignore a whole other arm of historical and present-day sexism.
Blah blah blah blah blah, though, you know? I’m so ready to change this whole conversation. Pessimism can only get us so far in this race. Now, more than ever, women have an opportunity to take this information and wield it in a way that benefits us rather than drags us down. What if, instead of trying to solve the gender pay gap, we just changed ourselves to view it as a good thing?
Some food for thought:
Have you ever considered that making less money means paying less in taxes? I mean, think about it. Women must pay, on average, fewer taxes than men. Where are the stats on that?! Sounds like a deal to me. I just may take myself shopping.
Also — and I don’t understand why no one is talking about this — 77 is a much cuter, more petite number than bulky 100. I’m not even sure I’d choose to make the full hundred cents if given the option. Seems unwieldy.
Speaking of which, I just finished reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and in it, she outlines the benefits of a simplified life. What if we applied that to our paychecks? Our bank accounts? We just might breathe easier. Leave all the income clutter to men, right ladies?
Raise your hand if you made less money when you were younger. Yep, me too. I think so fondly of those days. What a fun time, scraping by and finding myself. In that sense, having the opportunity as an entire gender to earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes is keeping us younger than them. And youth is nothing if not its own currency these days. Call us Forever Young. 😉
And finally, it’s foolish to underestimate the power of being the underdog. Think of every ‘90s sports movie you’ve ever seen — can you think of one wherein you didn’t root for the underdog? That’s what I thought. We’re much more likable down here at 77 cents on the dollar. And if you think about it, that’s more important than anything. We have until 2059 (and in some estimations 2248!) to enjoy these spoils, girls. Don’t waste another moment.
Photo by Walker and Walker via Getty Images; collage by Maria Jia Ling Pitt.