By now, we have all heard of the gender gap – the gap between salaries earned by men and women who perform the same exact job. This issue has been buzzing in the press for some time and probably ignored by most people as over-exaggerated or just not an important issue. But, let me tell you: the gender gap is very real and it is having a very real negative impact in almost every workplace and family in Florida.
Let me first start by reiterating an important point: the gender gap is not “fake news.” In Florida, women working full time are typically paid 87% of what men were paid, a gap of 13%. Across our country as a whole, that gap is 80%, with men earning an average of $51,212 per year and women earning an average of $40,742 per year. Unfortunately, the pay gap is even worse for women of color – African American women across the country are earning approximately 63% of what their male counterparts earn.
The gap consists of more than just unequal pay. It also includes unequal opportunities in leadership roles. Only 32 Fortune 500 companies have a woman CEO. Women hold less than 30% of senior management roles in private corporations. Between 2010 and 2015, only one dollar out of every ten global venture dollars was provided to a startup company with at least one female owner. In 2016, “female-founded companies raised 17 percent of seed dollars, 13 percent of early-stage dollars and 7 percent of late-stage dollars,” according to a study in TechCrunch.
We could spend a considerable amount of time talking about why this gender gap exists and considering endless examples of where it exists. However, our time is much more wisely spent discussing what we can all do to solve the gap.
The way I see it, we all have a responsibility to help each other. For women, that means if you have climbed the ladder of success in your job or company, or broken through the glass ceiling, bring other worthy women up with you. Dana Brooks Cooper in our firm is the perfect example of someone who has done this. She is a stakeholder and partner of Fasig & Brooks, and has reached the pinnacle of success as a plaintiff’s attorney. Dana is always championing the female attorneys in our office, as well as numerous female paralegals and support staff. If you are a working woman, help highlight the talents and voices of your fellow female colleagues so that your employer is aware that women’s perspectives and ideas add very necessary value to the business and the team.
As a man, be an ally to women colleagues – listen to and promote their ideas; give credit where it is due – if it’s a women’s idea, don’t try to take credit for it as your own; and point out conscious or unconscious bias when you see it so it can be addressed and resolved. While it is helpful for men to not be part of the problem, it is tremendously incredible for men to be part of the solution!
For employers, it is as simple as providing women with equal pay and equal opportunities to promotions and bonuses. It also means not putting barriers in women’s way – like, for instance, not frowning upon or punishing women who have to leave work early to pick up sick children from school.
Finally, for parents, and especially parents of boys like myself, let’s make sure that we raise our children to understand that they have a responsibility as they grow up to make sure that the playing field is even and that they don’t put obstacles in a woman’s way.