Today could be called the national holiday of Resting Biz Face. It’s Equal Pay Day, the symbolic day when the average woman’s paycheck catches up to that of the average man’s paycheck from last year. But the pay gap isn’t just about getting paid less money for the same work. In fact, when we compare the pay of men and women with the same jobs, skills, and experience, the gender pay gap is pretty narrow: 98 cents on the dollar. The stat we usually hear — around 76 cents on the dollar — highlights the opportunity gap. In short, women make less than men because they’re more likely to hold lower paying jobs and less likely to be executives.
But, it would be wrong to say that women “choose” these roles. In addition to shouldering most of the childcare and housework burden, women must contend with unconscious bias that informs their coworkers’ assumptions about what women should be like. For example, it’s common for both men and women to have bias against female leaders — or to hand women the metaphorical pen when it’s time take notes in meetings. And, as any woman will tell you, women are expected to be nurturing, even at work, and to show it by smiling.
You’re Not Bitchy, You’re Busy
Trouble is, women don’t get paid for the emotional labor they perform by taking notes when it’s not their job, or baking cupcakes for coworkers’ birthdays or, yes, even just smiling when they have actual work to do. Those little extras, which might seem like nothing to someone who isn’t expected to do it, add up. They sap time and energy that could be spent on other things — like the job women were hired to do.
There are real consequences here. Even if — as smiling-lady enthusiasts often claim — it doesn’t take that much time and energy to turn that frown upside down, it reinforces a stereotype. If you were handing out promotions, would you pick the go-getter … or the office mom?
Want to learn more about how the gender pay gap really works? Tune in from your desk via our Facebook live broadcast, Don’t Call It a Pay Gap, on April 4, 2017 at 11 a.m. PDT. This one-hour roundtable discussion will address the equity challenges facing women in the workforce, including what you can do for yourself, your peers and your organization to effect change. Panelists include: Elizabeth Weingarten (Director of the Gender Parity Initiative at New America); Peter Hamilton (CEO of Tune); and Christy Johnson (Founder/CEO of Artemis Connection).
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