We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet. Today, women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but the average working woman earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes. But unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change —Beyoncé
If there’s one thing that we should all be able to agree on, it’s the fact that we need to close the gender wage gap. Nationwide in 2017, Department of Labor data shows that women earned about 82 cents for every dollar a man made. That gap is even wider for minority women. However, a recent piece by CNN Money says that a significant number of men still don’t believe the gap exists.
According to the 2018 Money Census report from Ellevest, a women’s investing firm co-founded by CEO Sallie Krawcheck, 83% of women said they believe in the gender wage gap, “in which men make more than women for performing the same job.” Only 61% of men agreed. Researchers also found that only 42% of women think their workplace is a level playing field for women, versus 58% of men who believe that it is. The study also uncovered the fact that nearly half of women (48%) agree that women have to work twice as hard to earn half as much, however, only 25% of men believe this to be true.
“Around the world, more women are speaking truth to power, and I believe we’ve reached a tipping point,” Krawcheck said when the report was released. “Those who can’t or won’t see the inequalities women face will either come around and join us on the path to progress – or they’ll have to get out of the way.”
Ariane Hegewisch, study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, believes men’s disbelief could stem from the fact that they don’t want to believe they are benefiting from an unequal system — because that would imply that they’ve been rewarded for more than just their own merits. They also may feel that while some workplaces may be unfair, theirs is not.
“You don’t want to be the bad guy, so you kind of rationalize it in your head,” Hegewisch said. “There are lots of ways of making sense of this for yourself, which doesn’t really address the kind of more structural inequalities that I would think we need to fix.”
We, yes women and men, need to get on the same page to recognize that there is a problem before we stand a chance of correcting it. Men need to realize that this gap impacts their wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers. Men need to take this gap personally and realize that this gap is preventing their daughters from reaching their full potential, and preventing their sisters from being able to grow and succeed in their fields.
Once men are able to make a personal connection, they need to look also to the world at large. There have been countless studies showing that companies with more diverse workforces have better financial returns, and bottom line, and the economic impact of equal pay for women is significant enough that it should be at the top of strategies for economic growth. According to a recent report from the McKinsey Group, the United States could add up to $4.3 trillion in annual GDP in 2025 if women attain full gender equality. The McKinsey report, The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in the United States, finds that every US state and city can add at least 5 percent to their GDP by advancing the economic potential of women. Half of US states have the potential to add more than 10 percent, and the country’s 50 largest cities can increase GDP by 6 to 13 percent.
Once we are all on the same page that yes, the wage gap is real, and yes, it impacts all of us, we need to agree to work together to level the playing field. Equal pay for equal work should be the unifying goal. We need to encourage men to support our efforts, and advocate for their daughters. Men do not have to give something up for women to gain ground in pay and visibility at work. In fact, many of them will benefit from increases in household pay, benefits and savings. That’s why we all need to join hands and unite our voices, our actions, and our strength. That’s how change happens, and that’s how, together, we can close the wage gap for good.