• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

May 16, 2013

Level the Paying Field

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, a landmark law promising pay parity for women. Fifty years later, we're still making only 77 cents to a man's dollar. Why? And can we do anything about it? (Short answer: Yes, we can!)


Photo Credit: AP Photo

Special Offer

Why are we still making less than men? We've all heard the stats and know the score: Even though we outnumber men on college campuses, we're still stuck on that measly 77 cents, where we've been languishing for years. In 1970, we made 59 cents to a man's dollar, and that was 43 years ago. If the wage gap is such common knowledge, why can't we get up to speed?

Some of it is about personal choice: Men are more apt to pursue careers in high-paying fields like computer science, engineering, and finance, while women are more likely to go into education, child care, and social sciences—careers that pay less. (Why those fields pay less is another story altogether.) We're more likely to leave the workforce or go part-time during our corporate-ladder climb to start or take care of families. But our personal choices don't explain away the gap entirely: Even when we don't leave the workplace, we're paid less. Even when we choose careers in science, tech, and engineering, we're paid less. We're even paid less right out of college.

But here's the good news: There's a steady cultural drumbeat today that could very well turn the wage-gap tide in our favor, finally, once and for all. In Congress, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and her fellow cosponsors are pushing the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that will strengthen the Equal Pay Act (see box below) and make it harder to pay women less for the same job. Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg launched an explosive conversation this spring about the lack of women in corporate and government leadership positions with her new book, Lean In. Add to these the general media glare on the wage gap, and it's looking like now is the perfect time to fight for what's fair.

How to do it? Campaign to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. (Go to marieclaire.com/paycheckfairness to learn more.) Find out what you're worth, and negotiate a higher salary if you realize you're making less than you deserve. Learning to negotiate is the number one thing that we can do to battle the wage gap—and it's something that, for all the incredible inroads we've made in the workforce, women are notoriously timid about. "[Women] don't want to create waves," explains Gillibrand. "We think we'll be discriminated against if we negotiate." Thankfully, that's changing, too. Over the next few pages, today's killer negotiators give you their best bargaining-table advice. Take it and start making some waves of your own. —Whitney Joiner

This Is A Developing Story
Connect with Marie Claire:
daily giveaway
Win a year’s supply of makeup products from Tarte and a year’s supply of hair products from Hamadi Organics!

Win a year’s supply of makeup products from Tarte and a year’s supply of hair products from Hamadi Organics!

enter now
You Know You Want More
More From Career Tips
The High-Performer's Cheat Sheet

The 10 rarely-discussed-but-totally-essential career skills they don't teach in business school—and expert advice on how to nail them.

The Single Girl's Second Shift

You spend every night at the office, cluttering your desk with takeout containers. Your coworkers with kids are out the door at 5. Does work-life balance apply only to moms? Ayana Byrd reports on the latest type of workplace discrimination.

post a comment

Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.