04 Jul Gender Pay Gaps 2017
There was a time many years ago when only women cared about gender equality. Today, it’s everyone’s issue. So much has changed in the past decade let’s spend a moment defining Gender Pay Gaps as they appear today. I rote this blog hoping it would generate dialogue on gender parity. With 50% of the workforce being women, the gender pay gap is everyone’s problem.
Why? Because women spend. Can you imagine how much more we could spend given economic parity? If that doesn’t grab you consider this: the women in the workforce are weighted toward clerical or mid-management positions. While the rent is paid by these jobs the women are bursting with ideas at a time when we sorely need innovation.
This isn’t the halcyon call (whine) of generations past. Today women are empowered, with role models to follow. This blog is about financial parity. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Change doesn’t happen at Global Summits. Change starts locally as a result of discussion and sharing ideas. But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. In order to understand the issues up for discussion let’s look at how gender pay gaps and the pink tax impact spending power today.
THE PINK TAX
The Pink Tax is the additional money a woman pays in excess of what’s charged a man for certain goods and services. A 2013 study by The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) found women pay approximately 7 percent more than men on similar products. Broken down by industry, women pay:
- 13 percent more for feminine personal care products
- 8 percent more for women clothing
- 8 percent more for women senior/home healthcare products
- 7 percent more for girl’s toys and accessories
- 4 percent more for girls’ clothing
According to the 2013 DCA report 35 out of 40 product categories analyzed women’s products cost more than men’s product 42% of the time. The study shows women pay roughly 7% more per year than men purchasing the same or similar products and services.
Although I’ve cited local stats, the Pink Tax exists worldwide. France has taken action in receiving 45,000 signatures on a petition last year. It resulted in the French Government committing will study the Pink Tax.
As an aside, what if the companies which make the products cited in the NYDCA study lowered prices on certain high margin women products. Then studied the results of women having an additional 7% in her pocket? Maybe she’d spend 7% more on that company’s product. Maybe she’d spend 15% more.
Disclosure: In a personal survey of 10 of my friends, 4 would spend it, 3 would spend it and buy a new handbag and 3 would save it for their children’s after-school activities.
GENDER PAY GAP
The Gender Pay Gap is the ratio of women’s pay divided by men’s pay for a similar job function, seniority and skill set.
The gender pay gap differs with job function, as well as age and level of education. On average, women are paid roughly 80% of what a man makes for the same job function. In 1970, this figure was roughly 59%.
Catalyst compiled figures from several reports, presented here. The Gender Pay Gap is written about often.
This topic has as many sources for statistics as there are articles written about it. It’s important to compare apples to apples. The articles I’ve cited appear to do this, but if you find better, please share the links.
American Progress published a report that cites April 17th as Equal Pay Day. April 17 is the calendar day on which women have made enough to cover the Gender Pay Gap of 20%. Their report offers other useful comparisons clear of bias, and treatment of differing job titles, etc.
GROSS INCOME ADJUSTED FOR PAY GAP & PINK TAX
The Gender Pay Gap: On average, women make 80% of what a man would make for the same job.
The Pink Tax: On average, women pay 7% more than men on average for goods and services targeted for sale to women.
ILLUSTRATION OF GENDER PAY GAP & PINK TAX IMPACT
- MEN’S SALARY $100,000
- PAY GAP 80%
- WOMEN’S SALARY $80,000
- DIFFERENCE: Given a man makes $100,000, a woman in the same job would make 20% less; the woman’s salary would be $80,000
- WOMEN’S SALARY (adjusted for gender pay gap) $80,000
- PINK TAX 7% of $80,000 or $5,600
- WOMEN’S NET “in pocket” SALARY is $74,400 versus $100,000 “in pocket” salary for a man with the same position.
SUMMARY OF IMPACT
A man making $100,000 per year, his female equal would have $74,400 to pay for all expenses. Women have $25,600 less (25.6% less) per year.
We have usable pay gap data going back to 1955. If you’re interested, there’s a good study here.
ECONOMIC FREEDOM & MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
When I was a toddler, my forward-thinking father told me I could be just as smart as any boy and go on to do great things with my life.
I asked my father why I would need to dumb myself down in order to fulfill my dreams. He agreed and told me to forget he’d said it. While my parents laughter was lost on me at the time, I now understand it much better.
My mother graduated university in 3 years, entering her freshman year at the age of 16 and graduating at 19 with a degree in Textile Science.
Yet when she joined the workforce as a newly divorced woman equality wasn’t handed to her. She worked hard, kept her skills up to speed with the economy and she didn’t allow her gender (or her looks) to define her intelligence.
N.B.: at the age of 85 she received her Appraisers license to appraise decorative arts between 1850 – 1900.
THE ROAD TO ECONOMIC EQUALITY
Most American schoolchildren today learn about the suffrage movement of the 1900s and the ratification of the 19th Amendment of the US Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. Some of the hurdles to economic freedom came down as recently as the 1970s.
The list below are a reminder for young women today. So they know how quickly things change if we work toward a common goal. For example:
- Women were unable to get an American Express Card prior to 1970 without a male co-signor.
- Diner’s Club (the first “credit card”) also required a co-signor. In the 1970s, with divorce on the rise, it became necessary for women to get their own credit cards.
- I remember my mother receiving her first American Express card without her father or husbands co-signing it. And yes, I’m smiling as I type these words.
- A decade later, I received my first American Express card (1981)
- In local stores, women had a “charge and send” account – a house account that worked much like a credit card. But there was no card, just neighborhood familiarity and – you guessed it – the signature of your father or husband.
- All bills were sent to the man of the household. Did a shiver go up your spine ladies?
- I shudder to think of my husband knowing the number of little black cocktail dresses I own. How often I’ve said, :”oh this old thing, I’ve had it for years”
- A woman was unable to inherit their parents assets directly. If she was married when her parents died, all assets were placed in her husband’s name.
- This changed post WWII as more women were widowed or unmarried.
- My namesake, my great-aunt Nelly McCabe on my father’s side was unmarried. She was a suffragette about whom my grandmother would say – with some disdain “she smoked cigarettes in public”. She was a wild one!
- Nelly became an early beneficiary of direct inheritance for women by petitioning the courts upon her parents death.
Perhaps you already knew about these limitations, but now you can see them in context of where we are today.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
As illustrated above, in 2013 the pay gap was 20% with women making $0.80 for each $1.00 a man in a similar position would make. In 1970, that same number was ~40%. In 43 years we’ve seen a 20% improvement. At that rate it would take us another 45 years to achieve gender income parity.
I’m not suggesting that everyone should be given an immediate raise, regardless of performance, thus achieving gender income parity tomorrow. Um…no. Changing Gender Pay Gaps will take longer than a day and must include performance, potential and other job-related variables.
I support a moderate approach from both sides. For example, the Family Leave Act now gives men time off from work to bond with a new child or take care of an ailing family member. To my mind, that weakens an employer’s position regarding women taking time off to have children. The cost of the Family Leave Act should be paid out of everyone’s salary, not just women’s salary as it is today.
In performance-based positions such as sales & trading, a more tempered approach to bonuses can be achieved. I remember a boss telling me I didn’t need as much of a bonus as a guy on our desk because he had a wife and kids to support, whereas I only needed to pay for my shoe habit. While it may have been a true statement, he wasn’t taking my handbag habit into account. I joke, but the inequity of the statement is clear.
Today, woman work to support their families. Whether they’re single mothers, divorced women or women whose husbands chose less lucrative careers. That old saw “You don’t NEED to make as much as_____” goes right out the window.
Excuses such as having to take more time off for children’s appointments is no longer valid. And finally, I think we’ve all grown to understand work-play balance and quality of life. So we’ve just X-ed out a large percentage of the unstated but real reasons why women are paid less than men in the same position.
How do we create real change? Hmmm…I want you all to open your window…and yell as loud as you can…nah…oh, I know get one woman to stand on a table with a sign…nah….
Great in the movies but in real life, answers aren’t as easy. My contribution to limit the Pink Tax is to buy men’s products where gender doesn’t matter.
True, I still buy Jo Malone fragrance & nice undergarments. But where there’s no difference, I use the products for men. Why? Because I can. And you can too. My contribution toward Gender Pay Equality, as a business owner is a policy of equal pay regardless of gender. Differences arise only due to experience, skill set or performance.
I’m not a big enough business to make a difference. But if small businesses do it and a groundswell of supporters back it, maybe, just maybe others will catch the trend.
“They may say I’m a dreamer…but I’m not the only one”
– John Lennon,
New York Consumer Affairs Study: http://on.nyc.gov/2njuyiV
Ms. Magazine. http://bit.ly/2nmBFGf
Source: NY Consumer Affairs Study: http://on.nyc.gov/2mCo0dM
Marketwatch article: http://on.mktw.net/1PN4ljT
Groundswell article: http://bit.ly/2r6lcLq
Liz Planks video: http://bit.ly/1JeYjGZ
Ms. Magazine (2011) reported on the phenomenon