a quick update on all the ways women are being screwed over by unequal pay
Happy Equal Pay Day, aka the day when women effectively stop being paid for the rest of the year when you account for the gender wage gap. Can we all go home now?
Today is Equal Pay Day, which sounds like a very nice day, doesn’t it. Sounds like the day where the world has suddenly realised that people of any gender or skin colour should be paid the same as a white man would for doing the same work. Like some mythical fairy dust was sprinkled on CEO’s worldwide overnight, and they’ve woken up with a newfound conscience, polished off their shoulder pads, called a big fat meeting with the payroll execs and demanded, “Bump it up! Equality for everyone! Down with the patriarchy!”
Well, it’s not that day. It’s literally the opposite.
Equal Pay Day is the very misleading name given to the day where women effectively stop getting paid, once you factor in the pay gap. While men of the world can carry on making bank and being valued for what they do, women are basically working for free until the end of the year. Merry Christmas huns!
But wait, there’s more, of course there’s more, there’s always more — not money though. As the Guardian reports, new data shows that the gender pay gap is five times worse for women in their twenties now than it was six years ago, and that at the sluggish rate we’re plodding along it’ll take 100 years to close the gap. Research carried out earlier this year also shows that this is significantly higher for women of colour -- Pakistani and Bangladeshi women earn over 26% less than white men, black African women 24% less. The pay gap is also significantly worse for older women, which is absolutely zero consolation to young’uns at all, because a) older women are incredible, they are your mums, they are your grandmas, they pushed you out of their vagina and are literally the reason you are here today. And b), despite what societal conventions and anti-ageing cream adverts so wholeheartedly desire, all of us young women will in fact get old one day. As Carole Easton, chief executive of the Young Women’s Trust, says, “At this rate, today’s young women will be retired before equal pay becomes a reality.” Amendment: if it really does take 100 years to close the gap, we won’t just be retired. We’ll be dead.
So, are we surprised? Lol, have you seen the news lately?
The news: where the fact that Millie Bobby Brown earns the same as her male counterparts is an actual story because it’s so unusual. Where the so-called leader of the free world is chucking out exemptions for employers to have to cover birth control like he’s pumping out balloon animals at a kids’ party. Where in the UK, we now have a rape clause forcing women to prove that they’ve been raped if they want to claim tax credits for a third child. Where seemingly every day, every single damn day, there is another story or ten about a powerful high profile man sexually harassing or assaulting a woman.
These examples may not seem strictly pay related, but they are. Equal pay is just part of the insidious plague of inequality that seeps into pretty much every corner of society. These issues don’t exist in isolation -- they’re all intertwined in a complex, codependent web of societally ingrained sexism. As Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality party, told the Guardian: “The pay gap is another national scandal that we don’t understand, and it has this same national narrative around it that women are somehow choosing this treatment -- this idea that inequality is some sort of lifestyle choice.”
So what can we do? Great question, glad you asked, because I have absolutely no idea. The Women’s Equality party are encouraging women to set a symbolic out-of-office email that reads, "Out of Office. For the rest of the year." Walker said: “Imagine the chaos if all of those women in all those areas of work simply walked away from their jobs today. Shops shut, hospitals in crisis, businesses forced to close, dads scrambling to find childcare cover. It’s time for fair pay.”
Unfortunately, however, we can’t all go home and relish our unpaid freedom by knitting earmuffs for our cats -- our unequal pay is all spread out across the year, women skating on a thin scraping of vegemite, men swimming in a sea of Nutella. And given the pay is most unequal in London, the place that also happens to have the most insanely ludicrous rent and pint prices, not being paid for the rest of the year is not really an option.
Any other small steps you can take? You can donate to The Fawcett Society, a charity at the forefront of campaigning for equal pay (who have also released a very informative, comprehensive overview of the pay gap, and how employers can help redress this imbalance). And as of April 2018, if you work in an office of more than 250 people, you can demand to see their pay wage gap. Obviously that in itself isn’t a cure, but awareness of the issue is at least a good leverage point to demand better from your employer. Not that asking for a pay raise guarantees anything.
Otherwise, you can get real excited for 2117.
Happy equal pay day ladies.