There is an extensive amount of research that proves the gender pay gap is real. Nevertheless, plenty of disbelievers refuse to accept the reality and retort baseless justifications, in addition to many Americans who simply don’t know it exists. On average, women earn less than men in almost every field, and women of color earn even less. Yet despite overwhelming data and evidence, 1 in 3 Americans don’t even know the gap exists.
The first step towards change is increasing awareness. So to make things easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of statistics, resources, and responses to hypotheticals that can serve as your go-to fact guide when you’re discussing the gap.
When Chad says that the gender pay gap is simply a myth, you say…
Boy, bye. The Institute for Women’s Policy and Research found that women in the United States make 80 cents on the dollar compared to their male colleagues. This statistic is based on women of all ages, races, education level, etc.
When you break it down by race, Hispanic women earn just 54 percent and black women earn 63 percent of what white men make. This means that over the course of a 40-year career, black women will miss out on earnings of more than $877,000 and Hispanic women will miss out on more than $1,000,000.
Still skeptical? Let’s look at some examples:
Let’s take a look at the U.S. women’s national soccer team. Despite generating more in revenue, the women’s team earned only a quarter of what the male team did last year. They filed a suit against the U.S. Soccer Federation to fight for equal pay.
Also note: In Hollywood, women are paid 30 cents to the dollar. While shooting No Strings Attached, Ashton Kutcher was paid three times what Natalie Portman was paid, despite equal screen time. This example is mirrored throughout the industry.
When Linda thinks the gap exists because women have babies, you say…
Actually, men make more when they become fathers, and women receive pay cuts for becoming mothers. Am I insinuating that women are penalized for prioritizing family while men are praised for having children, despite the fact that the actual having of the children is done by the women? Yup. This is called the Fatherhood Bonus and the Motherhood Penalty.
The overarching problem here is that many companies don’t offer paid parental leave, so women are forced to leave work. If all companies provided paid parental leave, maybe it would alleviate the problem in a small way.
However, this still doesn’t account for the women who never leave the workforce to have children. In other words, women are persistently paid less because of the chance that they’ll have a child.
When Matthew claims the gap exists because men are more educated than women, you say…
Differing education levels would make sense, right? Well, turns out more education isn’t a solution to closing the gap. Research shows that women’s median earnings are still less than men’s at the exact same education level. This is called the “adjusted pay gap.”
For example, in the field of medicine where men and women receive the same level of education, women are still paid less than men. Female doctors make $14,581 less than male doctors on average in hospitals, even when you control for factors like age, specialty, and location.
Also, just a side note: women are actually more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree than men, and 56 percent of college students are women.
When Ashley says that the difference in pay isn’t that significant, you say…
Sure, I get it, 20 cents may not seem like that big of a deal to some when you think about holding just two dimes in your hand. But money adds up fast. Really fast. Taking the gap into consideration, at the end of the year women will have $10,000 less than men. $10,000 could go a long way for a family trying to make ends meet.
Moral of the story: closing the gender pay gap would provide a lot more security to families in need — and, not to mention, is simply the right thing to do.
Some more info you might want to highlight…
We can break down the gap by state, and Louisiana has the largest gap: Women are paid just 70% of what men make on average. Here you can see the breakdown for the rest of the states.
Countries like Iceland and Northern Ireland are using laws to reverse the gap. Check out what they’re doing to enact positive change.
The wage gap exists between men of different races as well, with white men earning the highest salaries on average.
Widespread sexual harassment deters women from entering largely male-dominated fields, leading to lower pay.
Use this survey to calculate how much you should be paid, and check out these tips in the event you find out your male colleague makes more than you. To browse anonymous ratings of salary satisfaction, check out your company and others on InHerSight, or submit your own review today to share your experiences with income equality or inequality.
By Cara Hutto
Born and raised a Tar Heel, Cara is a culinary aficionado and zealous writer consumed by wanderlust. She's passionate about women's issues and interviewing inspirational women in her community.