It's Time to Close the Pay Gap and Share Opportunity

Oct 22, 2018

We are separated from the day we are born. Some wear blue hats and some wear pink. It becomes natural for girls to play with dolls based on beauty while boys are encouraged to play with heroes. These stereotypes are planted in our heads from day one, and they are stereotypes that build the idea that women are inferior and do not deserve as much as men. Wage inequalities are a result of this idea of inferiority.

Unequal pay is widespread and it causes many issues. In the United States, women make 80 cents for every $1 a man makes. This is a huge deal; our world revolves around money. 

Women are deprived of money because of their gender, and it is very unfair. Companies get away with wage differentials, and it pains me to think that I will be paid less for something that I work just as hard for because of something that I cannot control. 

Don’t be fooled; this isn’t just about money. It is the fact that this economic split is setting back women. It affects our confidence. This makes it even harder for a single mother because she doesn’t have the means to support her child as well as a man would. With maternity leave, a lot of women lose the opportunity for promotions and men get them.

According to The Female Quotient, an average women’s salary decreases about 4 percent for each child they have. Women are being punished for keeping the population alive. Also, it diminishes our role in this consumer economy because, with inflation, women can't afford as much. This issue doesn’t just affect women; it affects the whole population. It is similar to how a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. 

These inequalities aren’t just weekly salaries. It’s about the number of men hired for leadership roles over women. Men get chosen for more leadership roles because of their booming voice or just how men are perceived to be stronger mentally and physically. In a recent vox pop I conducted in downtown Portland, the majority of people explained that their supervisors are mainly men. When I asked about a solution, a lot of people stated that we need more women as authority figures in the workplace. 

This issue can be solved, but it will take some work. People need to be exposed to this reality. The pay gap exists in a lot of companies. I read about one company whose executives didn’t realize that they were paying men and women differently, they just were. As soon as attention was called to the issue by a female employee, it was addressed. More companies need to use this as an example and really look into whether they are part of the problem or the solution.

I want to be alive when this change happens. I want to be a part of it, but I can't do it on my own. This change should not take the 217 years that The Female Quotient predicted. We need to speed up the process. I do not want to grow up in a world where I work just as hard as the man next to me, and he makes more money or gets picked for a promotion over me because of something I have no control over. This is not a world anyone should grow up in.

I encourage everyone to make sure their voices are heard. Stand up on April 2, 2019 to show support for Equal Pay Day. It is held on April 2 because that is the day that the average woman would have to work until to make what a man made at the end of the previous year. This cannot be the reality anymore.

Allie Wuerthner is a student at Kennebunk High School.