The gender pay gap has been an issue for decades. Did you know that as of 2016, women employed full-time made 20 percent less, on average, than their male counterparts? Though the gap has been slowly improving since the 1970s, experts estimate that equal pay for men and women won't be the norm until the year 2119. Social scientists continue to research the root and solution of unequal pay, but for now, one thing is for sure: We aren't helpless as women in the workplace.
Curious what you can do to help close the gap? Here are a few practical ways to do your part in bringing equity to the workforce.
Effective legislation on local, state, and federal levels could make a big difference in eradicating the gender pay gap. Though the gap is a nationwide problem with national consequences, each state has its own pay gap. Do some research on where your state stacks up against other states and call or write state lawmakers, urging them to address gender wage issues in state laws. You can also encourage state lawmakers to support federal efforts toward closing the gender pay gap. On a local level, contact city or community officials and ask them to observe Equal Pay Day in your area to help the cause gain traction.
Equal pay is likely to be a key issue in upcoming elections, so on top of reaching out to local officials, be intentional about registering to vote and showing up at the polls for local, state, and federal elections.
If you're willing to invest a little more time and energy in your passion for equal pay, take your passion to the community and host an issue forum locally on fair pay. Consider inviting local lawmakers, university sociology or economics professors, or business leaders for a forum discussion on paving a way forward in the midst of discrimination in the workplace.
If you want to do something a little bit more creative — and provocative — one fair pay advocacy organization suggests hosting an "unequal" happy hour. Partner with a local restaurant or bar and host a gathering where men pay full price and women receive 20 percent off, proportional to their average earnings in comparison to men. You and your gal pals will enjoy cheaper drinks, and your male colleagues may begin to realize how it feels to be financially disadvantaged because of their gender.
Many people might not even be aware of the disparity in salary between men and women. It may sound simple, but awareness is the first step of action. In order for people to make a difference in closing the gender pay gap, they have to realize its far-reaching implications! If you're passionate about the subject of equal pay, share your favorite resources or articles with your friends, or better yet, come up with a strategy and become a social media activist! You're already on Instagram anyway — may as well use it as a force for good!
A more direct method of taking equal pay into your own hands is learning how to negotiate your salary in the workplace. Thankfully, there are numerous online resources (e.g., Glassdoor and Salary.com) and tips on the topic, and if you do some research, you might even find a salary negotiation workshop in your community, like this one hosted by the American Association of University Women.
Is there a woman whose career you admire? Someone who has overcome adversity to carve out her own path of success? Learn from her! There's no better way to learn and grow than developing a relationship with someone who has overcome the issues you're facing in your own life. Whether you find a career mentor or grab coffee with a colleague you admire, you won't regret taking time to invest in your career early on. Here's a little #inspo to get you started.
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