“Patricia Arquette gets it” are the Washington Post’s words, but we totally agree.
The question of a gender pay gap has been debated a lot lately, long before the Academy Awards and certainly after. And that is great. Because no matter who says what with which statistic – whether that gap has significantly narrowed or remains stubbornly wide – it exists.
Women today on average make 82 cents for every dollar a man makes. If you’re under age 35, 90 cents. Back in 1979 it was just 63 cents, so that is real progress.
And this may surprise you: unmarried women without children earn 96 cents to an unmarried man’s dollar.
That’s practically pay equity! And yet… what exactly does this imply? What happens when a woman has a baby?
76 cents is what happens. Married mothers with at least one child under age 18 earn 76 cents on a married father’s dollar. Which means women are effectively penalized for giving birth. In a recent report for the centrist think tank Third Way, University of Massachusetts sociology professor Michelle Budig put it this way:
“Fatherhood results in a wage bonus… motherhood results in a wage penalty.”
This is precisely the point Patricia Arquette was making in her Oscar acceptance speech. The wage gap is much greater for mothers… a full 24%. Which is why we love what she said.
“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It is our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
She got some pushback from groups advocating for action on the most extreme of forms of gender inequality around the world, and they have a point. But whether rich or poor, in the US or abroad, every woman deserves equality.
We’ll go one step further. Nearly everywhere, women and girls face numerous disadvantages, from restricted access to education and work opportunities to lower compensation and property ownership. It’s not only a pay gap – it’s a global opportunity gap. A big, wide, stubbornly persistent chasm.
We argue that many of the world’s most intractable problems like poverty and conflict can be linked to gender inequality – and solved by addressing it. Equal opportunity for women and girls will bring about a brighter future for everyone, everywhere.
This Wednesday, April 14th, is Equal Pay Day. It symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Some say it’s misleading, based on headlines rather than real data.
We say it’s an important day to recognize no matter the exact date. Because gender bias persists in and outside of the workplace. And it is holding the world back.
So show your support. Wear red on Wednesday, and share these links with friends: