October, 2017. Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of multiple sexual assault cases. Numerous victims decided to speak out against him, which unraveled a movement that gave hope to women going through the same situation around the world. All of these women were encouraged to post on their social media #MeToo in order to support silenced victims and inspire everyone to stand up against sexual harassment. At this time in which national news is listening to women’s voices and their experiences in the workplace, it is imperative that all the disparities that women are exposed to daily become part of the narrative.
Stanford Statistic’s department reports that since 2005, women in the United States receive .80 cents to every dollar a man earns. For the past 13 years, the pay gap has not changed. Women still have to work twice as hard to earn much less than men. Such inequality might seem minimum if focusing on the .20 cent difference, but it represents profit worth thousands of dollars less annually.
To fix the pay gap, it is not enough for women to focus on education. The American Association of University Women indicated that at any level of a woman’s academic achievement, there is a man who is paid more for the same amount of education. The fight for the pay gap has to start with women voicing their concerns and fighting for their worth. The #MeToo movement is proof of how effective this can be. Time magazine reports that when interviewed, most of the women of the movement expressed fear of speaking up because of the consequences it might have on their personal and professional lives (Zacharek, Dockterman, & Edwards). However, when they all joined forces and spoke up, they were unstoppable, and the same thing could happen for the pay gap disparity.
It is the job of not only women, but also men, to question the inequalities women are exposed to in the workplace. The pay gap is not just a women’s problem. With lack of economic incentive for women, talent is being wasted, and opportunity of progress is being tossed. Right now, many women feel discouraged because they know that no matter what they do, they will not get the same reward. However, by having equal pay, everyone would have to work equally as hard to get to higher positions because of the increasing competition. Also, the economic incentive would allow women with brilliant minds to push themselves and contribute in the strive for progress, instead of being held back. Great things could be achieved if everyone fights for the elimination of the pay gap.
It is not enough for men to advocate for women through words, they have to act. The Huffington Post stated that actor Liam Neeson, when asked if he would take a pay cut in an interview in which he was claiming to reject the pay gap, expressed that taking his money away would be going too far (Wanshel). This hypocrisy cannot be tolerated in the fight for pay gap elimination.
As people voice their positions regarding the pay gap, governments have to contribute with the necessary policy changes. This is a problem that goes beyond the United States. As mentioned in CNN Money, according to research by the World Economic Forum, in every country in the world, women are legally paid less (Kottasová). In every country except one. CNN reported that in the beginning of 2018, Iceland declared as illegal to pay women less because of their gender (Kottasová). This new law does not mean that everyone has to be paid exactly the same, but that if companies do not want to get fined, they have to prove why someone is being paid higher. With this new policy, it is expected that the pay gap in Iceland will be totally eliminated by 2022 (Kottasová). The United States, and every other country, should follow this policy because as mentioned, equal economic incentive would generate economic growth.
The pay gap is not the only inequity women face in the workplace. Leadership positions for women in big companies are scarce. Moreover, this problem has made less progress than the pay gap in recent years. According to CNN Money, in 2017, 32 women had CEO positions within the Fortune 500 companies (Wiener-Bronne). However, in 2018, only 26 remain in their position (Wiener-Bronne). This problem extends to the board of companies and heads of departments. Just 21% of board positions in the Fortune 500 are occupied by woman (Wiener-Bronne).
Having less women in leadership positions within the company can stall the progress of eliminating the pay gap. If women were the ones deciding how much to pay other women, the pay gap could be reduced. Female leaders might be more willing to have everyone earn what they deserve, despite their gender, since they themselves have gone through this unfairness.
Having less women in authority positions can also affect the numbers of sexual harassment in the workplace. Men in the workplace, as in most roles of our society, see women as inferior and not as a force to follow. This lack of respect adds up to men believing they can manipulate them as they please. In a survey held by Forbes magazine, only 20% of women expressed a belief that their company would support them if they filed a complaint against their assailant (Gerzema). Having women in positions of power in the company might also make victims more willing to speak up against their attackers.
Just as women do not have leadership positions in companies, the same occurs in the United States’ government, and this is a big problem. Women hold less than 20% of the positions in the United States House and Senate. In other words, women do not have a loud enough voice in the place were real change happens. It is true that men could advocate for women, but it is not enough. There has to be sufficient representation of women in government, because they have experienced the pay gap and are more likely to fight for it with passion, and thus accomplish the necessary policy changes.
Women are not seen as equals in the workplace. Feeling unsafe in the work environment, having their expertise underestimated, earning lower salaries and facing fewer leadership opportunities are among the many adversities women in the 21st century have to face. Being a professional woman in the society we live in today is definitely not an easy task. However, with the fervor of the #MeToo movement, it is time to start questioning all of the inequalities women face in the workplace. It is time that this society joins forces to fight for a work environment in which everyone is in an equal standing.
Works Cited Page
Gerzema, John. “HR’s #MeToo Moment.” Forbes Magazine, 21 Dec. 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/12/21/hrs-metoo-moment/#7f91dc044791.
Kottasová, Ivana. “Iceland makes it illegal to pay women less than men.” CNNMoney, 3 Jan. 2018, money.cnn.com/2018/01/03/news/iceland-gender-pay-gap-illegal/index.html.
“The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap.” AAUW: Empowering Women Since 1881, www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/.
Wanshel, Elyse. “Liam Neeson Says Pay Gap Is ‘Disgraceful’ But Won’t Take A Pay Cut.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 11 Jan. 2018, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/liam-neeson-says-pay-gap-is-disgraceful-but-wont-take-a-pay-cut_us_5a57d33fe4b0365947f18aed?utm_hp_ref=gender-equality.
Wiener-Bronne, Danielle. “The ranks of women CEOs got even smaller this year.” CNNMoney, 18 Dec. 2017, money.cnn.com/2017/12/18/news/women-ceos-2017/index.html.
Zacharek, Stephanie. Dockterman, Eliana. Edwards, Haley S. “TIME Person of the Year 2017: The Silence Breakers.” Time, time.com/time-person-of-the-year-2017-silence-breakers/.
“20 Facts About U.S. Inequality that Everyone Should Know.” Standford Center on Poverty and Inequality, 2011, inequality.stanford.edu/publications/20-facts-about-us-inequality-everyone-should-know.