There was a time many years ago when only women cared about gender equality. Today, it’s everyone’s issue, I kid you not. So much has changed in the past decade let’s spend a moment defining Gender Pay Gaps as they appear today. From this blog I hope readers will dialogue on how we can achieve gender parity.
With 50% of the workforce being women, the gender pay gap is everyone’s problem. Why? Because women spend. Can you imagine how much more we could spend given economic parity? If that doesn’t grab you consider this: the women in the workforce are weighted toward clerical or mid-management positions. While the rent is paid by these jobs the women are bursting with ideas at a time when we sorely need innovation.
This isn’t the halcyon call (whine) of generations past. No bra burning here. Today women are empowered, with role models to follow. This blog is about financial parity.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. Change doesn’t happen at Global Summits. Change starts locally as a result of discussion and sharing ideas. This may sound grass roots but it’s the result of many green shoots, one company hiring women and men based on one scale, focused on experience and performance.
Once small business groups around the world invest in change, other companies see that the changes didn’t hurt the bottom line. But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.
In order to understand the issues up for discussion let’s look at how gender pay gaps and the pink tax impact spending power today.
The Pink Tax
The Pink Tax is the additional money a woman pays in excess of what’s charged a man for certain goods and services.
In a 2013 study by The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) found women pay approximately 7 percent more than similar products for men. Broken down by industry, women pay:
- 13 percent more for personal-care products
- 8 percent more for clothing
- 8 percent more for senior/home healthcare products
- 7 percent more for toys and accessories
- 4 percent more for girls’ clothing
According to the DCA report 35 out of 40 product categories analyzed, women’s products cost more than men’s product 42% of the time. The study shows women pay roughly 7% more per year than men purchasing the same or similar products & services.
Although I’ve cited local stats to support that the pink tax is real, the Pink Tax exists worldwide. France has taken action in receiving 45,000 signatures on a petition Last year. It resulted in the French Government committing will study the Pink Tax.
I’m guessing there’s a more straightforward path clear of bureaucracy and red tape. I’m just spitballing here, but what if the companies which make the products cited in the NYDCA study produced forecasts of what would happen if every woman had an additional 7% in her pocket? Maybe she’d spend it. Maybe she’d spend 15% more.
Disclosure: A personal survey of 10 of my friends, 4 would spend it, 3 would spend it and buy a new handbag and 3 would save it for their children’s after school activities.
Gender Pay Gap
The Gender Pay Gap is the ratio of women’s pay divided by men’s pay for a similar job function, seniority and skill set.
The gender pay gap differs with job function, as well as age and level of education. But on average women are paid roughly 80% of what a man makes for the same job function. catalyst compiled figures from several reports, presented here.
The Gender Pay Gap is written about often. The topic has many articles and many sources for statistics. It’s one of those topics which require clarity and patience to ensure you’re comparing apples to apples, always. The articles I’ve cited appear to do this, but if you find better please share the links.
American Progress published a report which cites April 17th as equal pay day. April 17 is the calendar day on which women have made enough to cover the Gender Pay Gap of 20%. Their report offers other useful comparisons clear of bias, and treatment of differing job titles, etc.
Gross Income Adjusted For Pay Gap & Pink Tax
Pay Gap on average, women make .80 for each $1.00 a man makes
Pink Tax women pay 7% more than men on average for goods and services
ILLUSTRATION OF GENDER PAY GAP IMPACT
MEN’S SALARY $100,000
Pay Gap 80%
WOMEN’S SALARY $80,000
DIFFERENCE: Given a man making $100,000 a woman in the same job would make 20% less. The woman’s salary would be $80,000
ILLUSTRATION OF PINK TAX IMPACT
WOMEN’S SALARY $80,000
PINK TAX. 7% or $5,600
WOMEN’S NET SALARY $74,400
DIFFERENCE: Continuing from the wage difference above, the pink tax would be $5,600.
SUMMARY OF IMPACT
A man making $100,000 per year his female equal would have $74,400 to pay for all expenses. Women are paid $25,600 less per year or 25.6% less. The raw number’s really point out the magnitud of Gender Pay Gaps.
We have usable pay gap data going back to 1955. If you’re interested, there’s a good study here. But I’d like to speak to my experience growing up at a time of great change for women.
As a toddler, my forward-thinking father told me I could be just as smart as any boy and go on to do great things with my life. I asked my father why I would need to dumb myself down in order to fulfill my dreams. He agreed and told me to forget he’d said it. But then look at who he married.
My mother graduated university in 3 years, entering her freshman year at the age of 16 with a degree in Textile Science. She went on to earn two advanced degrees which she put to good use. Raising my brother and I.
But when my mother entered the workplace her education and skill to learn quickly wasn’t reflected in her salary. She went on to learn computer coding language if the day and was able to support her family.
It was her education and the manner in which she presented herself that got her the secretarial post from which she launched a career. Equality wasn’t handed to her, but she worked hard and rose to the occasion.
The Road To Economic Equality
Most American school children today learn about the suffrage movement of the 1900’s and the ratification of the 19th Amendment of the US constitution gave women the right to vote.
Some of the hurdles to economic freedom came down as recently as the 1970s. For example:
- Women were unable to get an American Express Card prior to1970 without a male co-signor. Diner’s Club (no longer around) also required a co-signor. In the 1970s, with divorce on the rise it became necessary for women to get their own credit cards. I can still remember my mother receiving her first AMEX card without her father or husbands name on it. And yes, I’m smiling as I type those words
- In local stores women had a “charge and send” account. A house account worked much like a credit card. But there was no card, just the legacy of your good family name and – you guessed it – the signature of your father or husband. All bills were sent to the man of the household. Did a shiver go up your spine ladies? I shudder to think of my husband knowing the number of little black cocktail dresses I own.
- A woman born to an affluent family was unable to own their inheritance directly. If she was married when her parents died, all assets were placed in her husband’s name. (insert guffaw and knee slap here). This changed post WWII as more women were widowed or unmarried. My name sake, a great-aunt on my father’s side was an early beneficiary of her father’s petitioning the courts on her behalf.
Perhaps you already knew about these limitations but now you can see them I context of where we are today.
Where Do We Go From Here?
As illustrated above, in 2013 the pay gap was 20% with women making .80 for each $1 a man in a similar position would make. In 1980, that same number was ~40%. In 33 years we’ve seen a 20% improvement. At that rate it would take us another 45 years to achieve gender income parity.
I’m not suggesting that everyone regardless of performance should be given an immediate raise thus achieving gender income parity tomorrow. Um…no. Changing Gender Pay Gaps will take longer than a day and must include performance, potential and other job related variables.
I support a moderate approach from both sides. For example, the family leave act now gives men time off from work to bond with a new child or take care of an ailing family member. To my mind, that weakens employer’s position regarding women taking time off to have children. The cost of the Family leave act should be paid out of everyone’s salary, not just women’s salary as it is today.
In performance based positions such as sales & trading a more tempered approach to bonuses can be achieved. I remember a boss telling me I didn’t need as much of a bonus as a guy on our desk because he had a wife and kids to support whereas I only needed to pay for my shoe habit. While it may have been a true statement he wasn’t taking my handbag habit into account. I joke, but the inequity of the statement is clear.
Today, woman work to support their families. Whether they’re single mothers or women whose husbands chose less lucrative careers. That old saw “you don’t NEED to make as much as_____” goes right out the window.
Excuses such as having to take more time off for children’s appointments is no longer valid. And finally, I think we’ve all grown smarter about work-play balance and quality of life.
So we’ve just X’d out a large percentage of the unstated but real reasons why women are paid less than men in the same position.
How do we create real change? Hmmm…
Great in the movies but in real life answers aren’t as easy.
My contribution to limit the Pink Tax is to buy Men’s products where gender doesn’t matter. True, I still buy Jo Malone fragrance and nice undergarments. But where there’s no difference I use the products for men. Why? Because I can. And you can too.
My contribution toward Gender Pay Equality is my business’ policy of equal pay regardless of gender. Differences arise only due to experience, skill set or performance. I’m not a big enough business to make a difference. But if small businesses do it and a groundswell of supporters back it, maybe, just maybe others will catch the trend.
“They may say I’m a dreamer…. But I’m not the only one” – John Lennon, “Imagine”
Well, since I’m loaded up on guy products…. I think a new pair of shoes are in order. Enjoy the holiday everyone.
New York Consumer Affairs Study: http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dca/downloads/pdf/partners/Study-of-Gender-Pricing-in-NYC.pdf
If you have a few minutes Elizabeth Planks Mic video is worth the time invested. They do a side-by-side comparison of price and quality. https://www.facebook.com/MicMedia/videos/922511064438351/
Ms. reported on the phenomenon in 2011, calling on legislators to correct the gender pricing gap,