When she learned about the wage gap, she didn't whine. She did something about it.

Perhaps you've heard that women, pretty much everywhere and in every profession (even Jennifer Lawrence!), make less money than men. Here's one way to respond to that.

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Maybe this isn't news to you, but women don't make as much money as men, even if they're doing the same job.

Yeah, I REALLY MEAN the same job. The New York Times made this neat interactive chart that lets you explore by narrow industry sectors whether there's a pay gap. The data's from 2009, but it hasn't moved very much. TL;DR: There are three fields in which men make less money than women. Out of like ... 25. At most (postal service clerks), women make 4% more than men. Compare to physicians and surgeons, where women make 40% less than men.

The pay gap exists even for the most successful, driven women.

Remember when Sony got hacked and we got to read all their email?



Jennifer Lawrence, making the exact face I hope she made when she read those emails.

On average, comparing all women to all men, women make about $0.78 less. When you get into the specifics of a particular industry or look at a tighter demographic, the gap can be bigger or smaller.

Even for young, white, college-educated women, who have the smallest pay gap when compared to similar men, it still exists. The Pew Research Center notes that, among workers age 25 to 34, the pay gap is 93%. Which they describe as "near parity."

By my math, if a guy in that group is making $40,000 per year, he's pulling in $2,800 more than the woman in the next cubicle.

That's not "parity."

While it's true that women make different life choices than men — we choose to work in lower-paying professions (but are they lower-paying because they're less valuable to society or because they're traditionally done by women?), we choose to have babies (apparently all by ourselves), and we are more likely to care for sick relatives — those explanations don't account for all of the gap.

A 2012 report from the Department of Labor says about 60% of the pay gap can be attributed to women's choices. But that leaves 40% that is almost definitely discrimination.

And when you factor in race? It gets ugly.


(It's true. I got that stat from the crazy liberals at CNN Money.)

So what can you do about this?

  • Share information about pay equality with your friends. Most people seriously don't know that this is a problem.
  • Ask your business to release pay gap statistics. If it's not equal (and odds are strong that it won't be), demand an explanation.
  • If you're a woman, always negotiate your salary. If it's at all possible for you — do it.
  • If you manage women, review your payment structure to make sure you're paying people fairly.
  • Everybody: Hassle your representatives to pass legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act (2014).

Crazy as it might sound, an average pay gap of $0.78 is good news. Back in 1963, when Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, it was $0.59. Jobs aren't listed by gender any more. Most people agree that everyone should be paid equally for equal work. We've made serious progress.

We've still got a long way to go, but history is on our side. We've made progress before, and we'll keep fighting until we close this gap once and for all. Who's with me?!

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