#TIMESUPPAYUP: Your Pay Gap Stories
Equity, Women on the Front Lines
This year on International Women’s Day, TIME’S UP and our friends at the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association reached out to our community with a special request: to tell us your pay gap stories.
Immediately, the calls flooded in. We received hundreds of voicemails from women in all kinds of jobs: A librarian in West Virginia. A store manager at a sandwich shop. A warehouse worker racking up overtime hours.
The experiences you shared were heart-wrenching and infuriating. They reminded us of what we’ve always known to be true: The pay gap is about so much more than the numbers. It touches the lives of women everywhere — no matter our profession or the size of our paycheck.
It made me feel like when I thought I was sitting at the table, someone pulled the chair out from under me, and I wasn’t being treated equally.
Now, this Equal Pay Day, we face a new global reality. Despite calls from public health officials for individuals to stay home, millions of workers still need to show up to work every day.
And many of these workers are women who have been on the frontlines of the crisis. Eighty percent of health care workers are women. Eighty-three percent of workers who provide social assistance, including child care and emergency services, are women. Janitors, social workers, grocery store clerks, package deliverers, nannies, and so many more have been risking their own health to keep our communities going.
COVID-19 also lays bare the gender and racial inequities embedded in our economy and our culture. Many of the factors that contribute to the pay gap, like the lack of paid leave, undervaluing women’s work, and unaffordable child care, have only come into sharper focus. And company leaders are starting to realize that policies to support all workers — and in particular women — aren’t just nice-to-haves. They are essential to our economic security and success.
Now more than ever, the voices of women — especially those on the front lines of this global pandemic — must be front and center. Here are some of the stories you shared with us, along with a few facts about the pay gap:
The Gap Is Wider For Women of Color
I felt horrible realizing that I was taken advantage of for a year doing the same work as everyone else without equal pay.
- On average, women in the United States are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men. But the gap is much wider for women of color. Black women make just 62 cents, Native American women 57 cents, and Latinas 54 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
- Over a 40-year career, that amounts to between $941,600 – $1,121,140 in lost wages for black, Native, and Latinx women. That’s money they could use towards child care, student loan debt, retirement savings, or in this critical moment, money to simply keep a roof overhead and stay current on bills.
It’s very demoralizing knowing that I make so much less because that is real money that could really benefit my family.
- Closing the wage gap is especially urgent for women of color, who are overrepresented in low-paying jobs, and are often breadwinners in their households. More than four in five black mothers are breadwinners for their families.
The “Motherhood Penalty” Is Real
When I went back to work, I didn't have the same relationship with the new company to work around my kids’ schedules. So I had to work part-time and went back to working for $35,000 a year. It probably took me five years to work my way back up to $85,000.
- On average, mothers make just 70 cents for every dollar paid to fathers. The “motherhood penalty” widens for each child born, and it’s even larger for low-wage workers.
I did not fight for more pay because I was terrified of losing my one day a week from home, which was a new practice I had begun after the birth of my child.
- The disproportionate burden of unpaid home and caregiving responsibilities — which doesn’t only apply to mothers — is compounded by the lack of affordable child care and paid leave. Taken together, these are big drivers of the pay gap.
- When women have to leave the workforce to give birth and raise children, or care for aging relatives, it sets them back economically — the motherhood penalty alone translates to a loss of $16,000 annually.
I see many women who report to me become very nervous after having a baby...even while caring for elderly parents. They become very worried about losing their flexibility.
Our Society Undervalues What it Deems “Women’s Work”
I have been paid less because I work in a profession that is mainly women. I am a teacher.
- Women are overrepresented in low-wage jobs — like child care providers, home health aides, and teachers — and underrepresented in higher-wage industries, like construction, science, and technology.
- In 2017, women made up nearly two-thirds of the 23.8 million workers in the 40 lowest-paying jobs.
- Women-dominated industries are valued less. One study found that when women moved into an industry in large numbers, wages declined, regardless of experience, skills, education, race, or region.
Gender Discrimination is Real
I was always disrespected as a female in engineering, despite having more experience than most of the men that I was working with or at least more knowledge on the topic.
- Even when women work in traditionally higher-paid, male-dominated professions, they are subject to pay disparities.
- In fact, research shows gender and racial discrimination accounts for almost 40 percent of the pay gap.
It was a male dominated field. I was the only woman, surrounded by men who were my equal, men who were my bosses, and men who worked for me. It was only towards the end of my career that I discovered that I had been getting paid less than everyone else around me for years.
In these unprecedented times, we have an opportunity to rethink and rebuild the systems that keep women from achieving economic security and success. Together, we can demand equity and respect for every woman moving forward — regardless of her job or her zip code — and finally make the pay gap a thing of the past.
We hope you’ll add your voice to our pay equity fight. Text EQUALPAY to 306-44 to share your own story, and make sure that our voices demanding an end to pay inequity are too loud to be ignored.