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.

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  • Pork & Cookies

    LMAO Love it. I don’t believe in a pay gap because I know how numbers are deceiving and think there are a lot of confounding factors!

    -Kirsten // pork & cookies

  • Maria Oliveira

    Wow I am SHOCKED you guys would write something like this. Women suffer because they don’t make enough money. I grew up in a poor household and that extra few cents would’ve made a big difference for our family. We can’t Marie Kondo our way out of poverty. Ridiculous piece. This is a “humor” piece, but it’s certainly NOT funny.

    • Pretty sure it’s a joke.

    • Rebeca

      it is satire

    • Ive always been a huge fan of their articles and dry sense of humor but I agree with you, this one wasn’t funny..

      • Maria Oliveira

        SAME! Thank you! 🙏 I was feeling like a lone soldier in this one.

    • Jeanie

      It’s saying the opposite as a a way to say f-you to people who who see the wage gap as no big deal.

  • Gabby

    Is this a joke?

    • elpug

      Ya. 99.99% sure.

      • Summer Fulp

        you mean 77% sure?

  • Jessie

    Hilarious satire from the talented Haley. (Anyone who didn’t get the joke didn’t read the piece.)
    Also: 7s are a lucky number right? So 77 must mean ladies are extra lucky! Who needs equal pay when we have LUCK, right ladies?

    • Imaiya Ravichandran


  • elpug

    Love this. The only positives about it are the less taxes lol. I just did a speech in one of my classes advocating equal pay and honestly the stats are so sad. Was talking to a friend a few months ago and he was saying “women choose lower paying jobs blah blah blah blah” and it was impossible to turn his opinion around and explain that there are women who are engineers and doctors, etc. Ok I have to stop, I’m getting worked up.

    • Bo

      That’s funny because I was having a conversation with a guy I know about just this same issue and he argued that the pay gap only applied to women who worked high-flying corporate jobs and that they technically deserved it because they were filthy capitalists! All other women in trained professions, eg engineers, teachers, doctors, nurses, etc had never experienced unequal pay, ever, at all. He literally believed that even after I gave him a Withering Look.

  • Ha ha ha!

  • Devon Alexandra

    I mean, doing more with less is SO much sexier. Wouldn’t want that 100 to take away from my sex appeal.

  • Harling Ross

    I feed upon your satires like a hungry millennial cockraoch

    • Bree

      the friendship and encouragement and silliness between you two is one of my favourite things about man repeller

  • B.D.

    Except of course that with our making less money we actually pay MORE in household items (known as the pink tax) and therefore MORE state tax. Oh, did you know that in addition to wage gap, women also lose about 2 days wages and pay between 500-1000 to perform necessary documentation changes if they marry

    • So the items we purchase are obviously worth more, our contribution to the economy via taxes is proportionally higher and after getting married, it is the couples’ money that gets wasted for bureaucracy, anyway (I really think sarcasm is the best answer, in many cases – hope you don’t feel unwell with it here.)

      • B.D.

        I guess I don’t really consider this a topic to to use sarcasm soq people would actually realize that it’s sarcasm as it is actually used aa legitimate reasons by a-hole politicians.
        that Products aren’t worth more their things like Razors Edge dry cleaning and haircuts and shaving cream and body soap which are worth more we just pay more for them. It’s not the couple’s money because the woman is the one who’s losing it from her paycheck. (Most financial advisors now tell couples to maintain three accounts, one for each of them and one main one so it affects her money not the couple’s money

        • I do understand that – sarcasm is not the only approach I use for such topics, though. It is just a small revenge upon our stupid world that I actually need. Like Maria Oliveira says, a few cents can make all the difference in a woman’s life, and it stinks being treated as a second- or less-class citizen for no just reason, most of the time, but: still keeping one’s wit(s) is important. Using satire, irony, sarcasm in face of adversity and similar can be (or IS = my personal opinion) important. We need to complain, to state things as they are, but we also need to BITE.

          (I have my own account, too, and if I cannot pay for something, my husband needs to. So I still think of it as our money.)

  • Hilliary

    Not…. funny…. I get that this is supposed to be a joke, but it’s super tone deaf. 🙁

    • snakehissken

      I don’t feel it’s tone deaf… but maybe not everyone reads it and senses an undercurrent of anger?

      Actually, thinking about it, I suppose it wasn’t the best choice for Laugh It Off month. That kind of negates the “smile while I stab this pillow furiously” feeling.