That Happened: 3 Reasons Work Still Sucks for Women


ColumnEqual pay, the high cost of womanhood, and one Hot Ass Attorney General

1. We Are (Still) the 77%

Last Tuesday was Equal Pay Day, the annual marker to highlight the wage gap between men and women. It falls roughly when a woman’s earning matches what a man in a comparable job made the previous year. Meaning, I should now make what a man doing my job was making in April of 2012. Go me!

Passed 50 years ago, The Equal Pay Act—prohibiting employers from paying a man more than a woman for the same job, and from retaliating against women employees who challenge pay disparities—sounds like just the thing to have solved the wage gap. It hasn’t. According to Census Bureau data, the pay discrepancy exists in all 50 states. Women make, on average, 77 cents for every dollar a man makes; and when race is added to the picture, the reality is even worse: African-American women earn 69 cents on the dollar and Hispanic women earn 60 cents, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Many women are the sole, or primary, earner in their households—and whether that household includes a husband and kids, a partner or a well-loved dog—we deserve to be paid for the work we are doing, not for our boss’ perception of our need or our access to additional financial support. We don’t rent an apartment for 77 percent of what our male neighbors pay. We don’t pay 77 percent of the man-price for our transit passes. Our kids’ tuition isn’t marked down if a lady writes the check. Demand your whole check.

2. …And It Feels Like We’re Never Going to Catch Up

Complaints about our higher dry cleaning bills and the cost of makeup and the other things we have to spend money on to seem professional (that men don’t have to shell out for) are valid. However, the cost of being a woman is way higher than I thought. Turns out, all of those $70 dry cleaning bills are only the tip of the iceberg.

A new infographic from BrainTrack shows that over the course of our lives, everything from a disparity in savings to the cost of healthcare, is going to cost us $850,000. Which is one more reason we need to fight for equal pay.

3. But, At Least We Have One Hot Attorney General!

I am totally allowed to say that. You know why? Because I am not the President. I am not her boss. I don’t work with her at all (though I have actually interviewed her—but it was over the phone so I didn’t get to enjoy her hotness in person). My appreciation of Kamala Harris’ assets doesn’t undermine her accomplishments.

Okay, yes. It may be true that Harris is better looking than her predecessors, and that the President has referred to men’s looks as well—and he apologized for his comment. But, his timing sucks. Women in the workforce is a huge topic of conversation at the moment; open any news site and you’ll find a number of articles about the way women in tech are treated, the impact of motherhood on a woman’s lifetime earning potential, how much everyone loves or hates Sheryl Sandberg, etc.

While it was a dumb, throwback thing to say, I don’t think President Obama is sexist. From what I have seen, he has a healthy respect for women in the workplace (see: Clinton, H., as well as his commitment during the most recent State of the Union address to renewing the fight for pay equity) and at home (Michelle Obama is the coolest, hottest First Lady ever—and I hope the Prez tells her that on a regular basis because he is totally allowed to).

I do, however, think it’s a good reminder of how easy it is to forget to separate co-workers from friends, spouses, people in bars and the like. A solid rule of thumb: Just don’t comment on a colleague’s appearance. For a list of possible exceptions and rules to live by, check out Jezebel.

Image: Michael Panse