What the Gender Wage Gap Really Means to Women

For as long as many of us can remember, and even long before we were born, men have been paid a considerable amount more than women in the workplace. This unequal pay for the same type of work is called the gender wage gap. While many are aware of this problem, little has been done about it. Women make up nearly half the workforce. These professionals, some of whom are the main breadwinner in their household, went to college, earned degrees, and worked to get to the position they are in today. They did just as much as men have, some even more. So why in 2016, are women making only 79% of that of men?

While this has been going on for what seems like forever, the issue of unequal pay for equal work has been popping up more and more in the news and media lately. Most notably, is the difference in pay of the U.S. men’s and women’s national soccer team—a topic that made headlines everywhere a couple months ago. The women’s national team has outperformed the men’s national team and captured attention nationwide for their three World Cup championships, the most recent in 2015, and four Olympic gold medals. Even after these numerous successes and accomplishments, the players were still being paid less than their male counterpart. The differences do not end there. More money is spent on expenses for the men’s team, and the men’s head coach is paid significantly more than the women’s. As a result, five members of the World Cup Champion women’s national team filed a lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation accusing them of wage discrimination. Rather than watching from the sidelines, these strong and hard-working women are taking action to end this discrimination, because to them it is not just a game, it means more.

A year earlier, actress Patricia Arquette gave a speech at the 2015 Academy Awards promoting a call for equal pay for women. After winning an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in Boyhood, Arquette gave her acceptance speech in the way most do; however she ended with quite an expression of her view on the gender wage gap, which was a great crowd pleaser among many other actresses in the audience who felt similarly. Arquette said, “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It's our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

There is a clear pattern of celebrities taking action in the issue of the gender wage gap. Following in the footsteps of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and Patricia Arquette, actress Kristen Bell recently made a public call for action. Bell released a parody commercial for a company called “Pinksourcing.” Ultimately, this clip makes fun of the gender wage gap, while bringing to light the underlying message of how bad the discrimination really is.

These are just a few examples of the many people and organizations who are taking a stand against the gender wage gap. To them, it is not a little difference in pay and something that can be shaken off and looked past, it is a serious matter. As college women, looking towards launching our careers within the next few years, we too need to take into consideration the problem women in the workplace are facing, because there is a chance many of us will face it too. Having equal pay for equal work means we are all the same, we all work towards a common goal, and we all deserve the same treatment. Yes, it typically means more to women, but it should just mean more to everyone else until the issue of the gender wage gap is no more.