Western countries have been grappling with the issue of gender pay inequality since the second-wave feminist movement in the 1960s. Despite our progression in other areas such as maternity leave, the gender pay gap has remained a sad reality across the developed world.
Statistics show that women in America earn eighty cent for every dollar earned by a man. This presents a pay gap of 20%. The 2016 report “The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap” projects that at the rate of change between 1960 and 2015, women are expected to reach pay equity with men in 2059. (That equates to, dare I mention it, over ten presidential terms!)
The twist of the knife comes with the realisation that women of colour experience an even greater wage gap: In 2013, African-American women working full time, year-round were paid only sixty-four cent to the white-man's dollar.
This issue has recently caused a public outcry in France. Eurostat's figures for 2014 show that French women's salaries are 15.1% less than that of males. The French feminist group Les Glourieuses stated that
This difference in salaries hides other inequalities. Women also do other unpaid work like household tasks.
The feminist group calculated that if women earned the same as men in France, they could stop work each year on Monday November 7 at 4:34pm and be no worse off than they are now. This week, institutions such as Paris City Hall joined the protest and stopped work to highlight the wage disparity between men and women.
This new stance against such inequality excites me. Women are sending their message loud and clear, while maintaining their poise and dignity. How can government officials argue when women are simply performing the work which their wages merit?
A near-identical protest took place in Iceland this week. Even in the country which experts consider to be the world's leader in gender equality, the pay gap persists. Last Monday November 7, thousands of Icelandic women left work at 2:38pm (14% early) to reflect the country's 14% pay gap.
This issue stems beyond the typical careers of the labor market. Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence has bravely addressed Hollywood's ruthless gender pay gap. She opened up to Diane Sawyer on gender inequality within the showbiz industry when hacked e-mails revealed that she was paid less than her male counterpart in the critically-acclaimed 2014 film "American Hustle".
Jennifer confessed that she had fallen in to the trap which so many American women are lured in to by their male superiors. She explained that when Sony told her of the salary difference, she smiled and nodded so as not to "appear spoiled or difficult." As women are in equal, if not higher demand in the film industry, this sparked bewilderment.
It is clear from recent years that we are no longer naive to this blatant discrimination against women in the workforce. The issue has been placed under a white-hot spotlight and can no longer be avoided.
It is motivating for myself as a young woman to witness other women around the world facing this archaic concept head-on. Whether it takes years or decades, I believe that there will come a time where women can earn equal and in some cases, more, than men. Change is imminent. You might call my ambition absurd, but so is the pay gap.