April 17, 2012 by Ilene H. Lang
Equal opportunity, equal leadership, and equal pay—you can’t have one without the others. Yet all three remain elusive for working women.
Equal Pay Day marks how far into 2012 women must work from January 1, 2011, to match what men earned last year. On average, women make only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. This gap adds up: over the course of their lives, women in the United States lose an average of $380,000 because of the gender pay gap, a loss that is compounded by reduced pensions in retirement.
Gender pay gaps don’t just harm women—they harm families too! Nearly 40 percent of United States mothers are the primary breadwinners of their households. But the median income of single-mother families with a child or children under 18 was only $24,487 in 2010.
When women are paid less just because they are women, the implication is that they are worth less. This in turn leads to gender gaps in opportunity and leadership. The cycle begins with unconscious bias—it is not due to women’s lack of ambition, parenthood status, or failure to employ the right career advancement strategies.
So how do we close the gaps?
The Get Even campaign, co-led by Catalyst, the National Council for Research on Women and The White House Project, was launched at the recent Catalyst 50th Anniversary Celebration. Getting even is not about taking anyone down. It’s about lifting everyone up to the same level. When women get even, the world gets more talent, innovation, and GDP growth.