Recently I saw this Funny or Die video that Christina Hendricks starred in. Take a minute and watch. (If you're reading via email or blog reader, click through to watch.)
It's funny to see how much things have changed in the office since the Mad Men era. We use plastic Pop-tarts as phones, rely almost exclusively on computers for work, and can no longer have three martini lunches. Yet women still earn less than men for the same work.
The video used the statistic that President Obama uses in speeches; the claim that "women earn 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men". That's not entirely accurate, as the official Bureau of Labor Department statistics actually showed that the median earnings of full-time female workers is 77 percent of the median earnings of full-time male workers. There are lots of factors that go into this statistic.
But the truth is that despite all the factors, women are being paid less than men. Often it can simply be because we value ourselves as less than we are. We earn less because we ask for less. I know many of my friends don't negotiate their salary when starting a new job. I didn't at my first few positions. Women tend to accept what they are offered and hope for a raise down the line, while men will negotiate right from the beginning. So we are starting off on unequal footing to begin with.
Now, I'm not asking you to petition your government officials, quit your job, or demand a raise immediately. But next time you are in your boss's office doing a performance evaluation and the topic of raises or promotions comes up, jump on it. Next time you are considering a job offer, don't hesitate to counter that offer with a number of your own. A couple thousand in starting salary doesn't make a huge difference those first few years, but down the road it does. Ask Lilly Ledbetter*. You're not just missing out on salary. Your future Social Security benefits are affected, your 401k is affected, any retirement contributions from your employer are affected, and if you get paid overtime, that is affected as well. Stand up for yourself, ladies! No one else will do it for you.
*Lilly Ledbetter is the woman who the Fair Pay Act of 2009 was named for. She worked at Goodyear for over 20 years. By the time she retired, she was making far less than any man in a similar position. She sued the company, and the case went to the Supreme Court. SCOTUS ultimately ruled against Ledbetter, with the majority claiming that her lawsuit was filed after the statute of limitations. The Fair Pay Act was named after her because it changed the statute of limitations; every paycheck essentially resets the clock now. And yes, this is an incredibly simplified summary of all this.