Early in my career, I misspoke in a meeting with one of my male superiors. “This is why you make 79¢ to my dollar!” he joked. Stunned and horrified, I finished the meeting. But that statement never left me, and it disturbs me more and more as time marches on.
Fast forward to 2019. I no longer work with that male colleague that made that rude comment to me, and I just watched the U.S. women’s national soccer team win their 4th World Cup in a 2-0 win over the Netherlands. Despite the big win for the team and women’s sports in general, the landmark achievement is being shadowed by a lawsuit brought by the team against the U.S. Soccer Federation demanding equal pay.
The women are expected to bring home about $250,000 each for their win, a fraction of what their male counterparts would have made for the same achievement (an estimated $1.1 million). The disparity is shocking amidst reports that the women brought in more revenue for the USSF than the men’s team. It makes you wonder, why are these women getting such a raw deal?
While the pay disparity in the U.S. is decreasing, it is happening at a glacial pace. In 2017, statista statistics put us at about 80.5%, which is only a decrease of 6.3% in 20 years (74.2% in 1997). According to The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, it will take until 2059 to finally reach pay parity.
As a woman, I continue to be haunted by the statistics. Only 6.6% of women make up the Fortune 500 list of CEOs. The opportunity gap is also vast for women, leaving them in lower-level and lower-paid positions. Even in Hollywood, a culture that is known to display a progressive slant, female actors continue to be paid far less than their male counterparts.
As our Women Champions begin to come down from their World Cup victory high, I hope they are able to harness the high energy of the chants “equal pay, equal pay” that rained down on them. I, for one, will cheer harder for them than I did in the world cup. This time they are not just fighting 11 other women on the field, they are fighting for 51% of Americans.