Yes, women still earn less than men

A girl holds up a sign for equal pay for the U.S. women soccer players. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

A girl holds up a sign for equal pay for the U.S. women soccer players. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Dear Fellow Women,

Happy Equal Pay Day! Today is the day when our average pay from January 1, 2015, equals the same amount our male co-workers earned in 2015. In other words, it took us over 15 months to earn the same amount as men did in 12.

And that’s only the best case scenario.

If you’re an African American woman, you’ll need to work until Aug. 23, while Latinas must work until Nov. 1.

From Jennifer Lawrence’s reaction to the Sony hack (editor’s note: link contains adult language) — which revealed she was paid millions less than her male co-stars — to the recent pay gap lawsuit filed by the U.S. women’s national soccer team — who despite currently being ranked 1st in the world with four World Cup championships and four Olympic gold medals, earn far less than their male team counterparts who have yet to win either a World Cup or an Olympic medal, and are currently ranked 29th in the world — women are making their voices heard.

On average, women make 78.6 cents for every dollar men earn in similar industries and job titles. Here in Florida, the gap is smaller at 84.9 cents, and while that may seem like a small(ish) victory, the devil is in the details.

First, on average, salaries in Florida are lower than the national average, and as research shows, the higher the salary, the wider the gap. The gap also widens as workers advance in their career, so while a woman may start out at 16 earning only slightly less than her male co-worker — 91 cents for every dollar — by the time she is 45 years old, that gap has widened to 77 cents.

The gap also gets wider when women earn degrees.

Earning less also makes it harder for us to pay off the student debt we accumulated to get the degree we earn less for. Oh, the irony.

There have been arguments made that women choose different jobs to accommodate a better work/life balance or be in a more comfortable setting. But a study by the American Association of University Women found that even men who worked in traditionally “female” fields earned more than their female co-workers. Female administrative assistants earned 84 cents on the dollar compared to males doing the same job while female nurses earned 90 cents on the dollar.

Other professions, such as medical scientists, computer programmers, lawyers and pharmacists, where men and women work in the same environment, male workers consistently made more than their female co-workers.

But women in the workforce know all of this. We know we likely earn less than our male counterparts, and we know that if we try to negotiate our salaries, we are seen as “difficult” (whereas our male co-workers would be seen as “business savvy”). It’s a loop that women find themselves in throughout their career.

The tide is turning, though, albeit ever so slowly.

“I’m proud to share that at Facebook, men and women earn the same,” Facebook CEO Lori Goler said.

Microsoft is on a similar trend.

“Today, for every $1 earned by men, our female employees in the U.S. earn 99.8 cents at the same job title and level,” said Kathleen Hogan, executive vice president of human resources at Microsoft.

Now, while that’s good news, fewer women tend to hold tech positions like those offered by Microsoft and Facebook. But, small victories.

The bottom line is, women need to continue educating our employers and government leaders on this issue. We need to stand up for ourselves and not be intimidated by the prospect of being labeled “difficult” (or any other word that comes to mind), negotiate for our worth, and teach the young girls in our lives to do the same. We need to encourage the next generation to pursue whatever profession they want, and show them that, yes, women are actually very good at science and math (and maybe introduce them to Mayim Bialik and Danica McKellar).