Here’s What it Would *Actually* Take for Women to Win Equal Pay
According to Equal Pay Today, the average woman makes 80 cents for every dollar the average man makes. April 10 marks Equal Pay Day, the day of the year where — when combined with her previous year’s salary — the average working woman has caught up to the earnings of the average man in the previous year. Equal Pay Day is a reminder that women are still not paid the same as men for equal work, a bias that harms women and their families. It’s also an opportunity to consider some of the best strategies for women to gain pay parity.
While Equal Pay Day recognizes the average woman’s pay as compared with white male earners, that gap varies widely among groups of women depending on factors like gender identity and race.
Equal Pay Today reports that Asian-American women earn (on average) 87 cents to a white man’s dollar, white women earn 79 cents, Black women earn 63 cents, Native women earn 57 cents, and Latinas earn 54 cents. Moms tend to earn less money than dads, too. Equal Pay Today states that the average mom earns 70 cents to the average dad’s dollar.
A 2012 report from the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy Center at the University of California-Los Angeles, there is also a pay gap between LGBTQ+ workers and straight, cisgender workers. Trans women are especially impacted by discriminatory pay and are very vulnerable to being fired because of their gender.
Emily Martin, General Counsel and Vice President for Education and Workplace Justice for the National Women’s Law Center, tells Brit + Co that it is “important to center” intersecting forms of discrimination, such as gender and race, in conversations about solutions to the gender pay gap. One of the most effective ways for women and other marginalized people to gain pay parity is through unionizing.
Employees can vote to join or create their own union, usually so that they can negotiate better pay, working conditions, and hours with their bosses. In a union, employees often have more protections, and more leverage for getting what they need and want at work, without fear of getting fired.
“As an employee, it’s always difficult to challenge your employer when you’re being discriminated against,” Martin says. “Workers are by definition dependent on employers for a paycheck and in a position of less power, which makes it really difficult to negotiate.” However, many of these obstacles are mitigated through the collective power of unions.
A 2017 report from the Economic Policy Institute states that “working women in unions are paid 94 cents, on average, for every dollar paid to unionized working men, compared with 78 cents on the dollar for non-union women as a share of nonunion men’s dollar.”
Natalie Wahlberg is a union organizer with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73 based in Chicago, and primarily works to unionize adjunct professors and university faculty. One thing Wahlberg says she’s noticed in her work is that professors teaching in women-dominated fields often earn less than professors teaching in male-dominated fields such as biology and physics.
“What we’ve seen is that in a lot of the soft sciences, performance arts, language studies, music, etc., which are predominantly women-centric fields,” Wahlberg tells us, “these tend to be the lowest-paid positions and [workers in these fields] are asked to do the most work.”
But Wahlberg has noticed that unions can correct that imbalance. In 2014, adjunct professors at Tufts University organized a union with SEIU to win wage increases as high as 42 percent in some departments, “definitively closing their wage gap,” according to Wahlberg.
Beyond wages, the EPI report also says that unions improve pay for women of all races and ethnicities. Further, union workers have better benefits options, such as health insurance and paid time off. Martin says that a few of the key reasons why issues of pay and benefits are addressed so effectively in unions are that there is more transparency regarding pay.
“One of the main problems in addressing pay discrimination is that pay is draped in secrecy,” Martin says, but this is much less of an issue in unions as employees can negotiate for transparency policies. Further, unionized employees have the benefit union representatives, who are helpful advocates.
Beyond unionization, Martin tells us that there are legislative policies that can greatly help to close the wage gap. One such policy that the NWLC advocates for is a higher minimum wage.
“Women are over-represented among minimum wage workers,” Martin explains, “so when you raise the floor, women’s pay goes up.” She also says that the NWLC has urged lawmakers to enact legislation that guarantees equal pay for equal and comparable work.
For example, Martin says that a janitor (a position more commonly held by men) may make more money than a cleaning person (who is more likely to be a woman). In this case, the work is not exactly the same, but the skills and labor are comparable, which means people working in either job should be paid equally. By making equal pay for equal or similar work mandatory, women are likely to see their wages increase.
Lastly, Martin says that the NWLC recommends doing away with salary history questions during the hiring process. Since women and trans people already tend to make less at work than their cisgender male counterparts, basing a new hire’s salary on their past income makes it more likely that their lower pay rate follows them their entire careers. When new hires don’t have to answer questions about their salary history, they are more likely to be paid based on actual skill and experience. Salary history questions are already banned in several states and cities, including New York City and the entire state of California.
When it comes to the gender pay gap, it’s important to always remember that there are multiple pay gaps based not only on gender, but also race, family status, and more. Policies such as pay transparency, laws that raise the minimum wage, and unionization are some of the best ways to close gender pay gaps. The best solutions to gaining equal pay are those that uplift all women.
What do you think? Tell us on Twitter @BritandCo.
(Images via Getty Images)
Artist Dev Heyrana On How Bravery, Resilience and Sunshine Influence Her Work
Ever meet someone who you feel immediate kinship with on a deep almost spiritual level? That is legit every person's experience upon meeting Dev Heyrana, the star of this edition of Creative Crushin'. A fine artist, hip hop dance teacher and constant collaborator, Dev's particular brand of creativity is one-of-a-kind. She manages to be warm, welcoming and woke, with a focus on inclusivity, social justice and motherhood that comes through in every piece of art she creates.
Anjelika Temple here, co-founder of Brit + Co and one of many humans who has benefitted from Dev's boundless generosity and kindness. We first connected at a launch event, then I asked her if she and her family would like to model for a B+C shoot (they did!), then months later, I asked the IG universe if anyone would be down to co-parent with me for a day so I could speak at a conference. Dev said yes! And for those that know her, none of these serendipitous moments are surprising.
Now it's time to delve more into Dev's story, her creative inspiration, her thoughtful approach to parenting and what makes her more passionate than ever about bringing her point of view and artistic voice into the universe.
Anjelika Temple: First, foundations. Where did you grow up? What is your heritage? What did you study in school? Where do you live now?
Dev Heyrana: Born in The Philippines and immigrated to the U.S. when I was 9 years old. Me and my family are from the island of Cebu and I'm a proud Cebuana. My childhood in the Philippines felt like freedom. I had my swimsuit in my backpack for whenever we decided to swim and I biked everywhere.
Immigrating here at 9 yrs old was a transition, to say the least. My parents had big dreams but the move was heavy on them. It wasn't easy. I had to grow up fast. I took care of my sisters while my parents worked night shifts. By the age of 12 I would cook dinner and get my sisters ready for bed. Something I didn't realize was that kids my age didn't do those things until I got older. We would play these make-believe games to make, in hindsight, our hard situation brighter.
I think this is really when art played a big role in my life. It was something I could escape in and always felt healing.
I witnessed racism towards my family and didn't know how to make sense of it. These events left a mark. I was a quiet kid and observed everything and everyone around me. I think about my grandparents, Lolo Jose and Lola Rita, a lot as I walk through life. When I make decisions. As hard as it feels, you have two choices, do you let it take you down or take it one step at a time forward. I kept going and it really shaped me as to why I am the way I am today.
I studied Fine Arts at The Corcoran in DC. I owe that decision to my art teacher, Mr Giles, in High School. He was retiring and wore a Hawaiian shirt every day during my senior year. He was a curmudgeon and I felt incredibly special since out of everyone in the school he really believed in me. As grumpy as he seemed to the class, he would tell me things like "Go into the other studio and break some glass, then put it on a canvas." He's the reason why my abstract pieces have elements like clay and sand in them.
I've had incredible mentors and all were teachers. Mr. Giles in High School and Christine George in College. Christine was the one who told me to go either to New York or San Francisco because "D.C. is no place for an artist like you." She told me to not listen to anyone, how I can still paint, be a graphic designer, and, if I choose to, have a family. I've never had anyone tell me anything like that before.
I took a chance because of her. Moved and went to Design School in 2006 and I've stayed in the Bay Area ever since, raising two girls with the love of my life.
Anj: You are one of those magical human beings that has figured out how to be a full-time artist. What was your career path like before you were able to dive fully into your creative passions?
Dev: The most radical thing I could have done in my family, I did, I went to college for Fine Arts. A mix of being so young and having to do it on my own, I went with the school that gave me more scholarships. Even then I worked three jobs to be able to get through it. Hard work is ingrained in me.
With my sculpture background, I fell in love with Print and Packaging and why I came out here to San Francisco. I appreciated the security of having a career in Graphic Design. I also learned how to work with clients and the business side of things. Even then, I never stopped painting.
A few years ago I went through a pretty hard time with my health. I dealt with six surgeries in one year and I still have to do some follow-up ones. That experience almost broke me and what got me through was my family and painting in bed while I recovered.
When I finally got back on my feet, my heart just wasn't in Graphic Design anymore. So I made a two year plan. With a toddler and a mortgage, I wanted to make sure my steps were thought out. I put myself out there as an Artist while I still worked in Design. After a year I worked part time as a Graphic Designer and stepped down from my Creative Director position. I loved it, to be creative as an Artist and as a Designer. I looked at 2018 as my year to make the jump. If my work as an Artist balances out with my salary then I would quit in the Summer of 2019. And so here we are. I also am sharing a studio with my good friend, Naomi PQ, and I feel like my creative drive is just beginning.
Anj: What do you love about painting? How do you feel when you're in a creative flow state?
Dev: Like every part of me is free. Free to express myself through the stroke of my hand. How all of it leads back to my heart. These elements I use to paint have a mind of their own and how I need to respect the process.
It centers me and reminds me that the process is just like the life we lead. I know I still have so much more to learn but while I'm painting no matter how it's going, I'll embrace this moment.
Anj: You reference your roots quite a bit in your work. Talk to me more about how your roots inspire your work.
Dev: One of my earliest memories is of my Lolo Jose teaching me how to water mango saplings. He converted to Buddhism when my mother was young, so he viewed the world with love and kindness. I didn't realize it then but watering those mango trees were life lessons. We need to take the time to nurture, practice patience, and respect all living things. I still imagine him walking beside me often, carrying his teachings as I find my way in this world.
Nature and the Sun drive my pieces. My abstract works are fragments of moments. Like the sunset I grew up with when I was seven years old in the Philippines, like how I saw the water in Cebu when I dove in as a young adult, and like when I saw the redwoods with my children for the first time.
I see earth in our skin and especially when I paint people. How our mango trees grew and blossomed because the dark earth was rich with nutrients. I imagine the Sun piercing through these women I depict. I paint their love and bravery because their resilience cannot be contained. I want to celebrate all of it.
This is the beauty of Art, I am able to paint exactly how I see it.
Anj: Motherhood and your daughters are also central themes in your work. How has motherhood changed your approach to creating artwork?
Dev: Everything. I was still deep in my Design Career and I would paint at home. One day Quinn, who was 3 years old at the time introduced me at the park to a mom. "This is my mom, she's an Artist." It struck me that my toddler knew who I was more than I knew myself. That's really when I really owned it. I am more fearless because of my girls.
I own my body, I thank people when they compliment me, and I am selective but fearless when I use my voice. I am more in tune how I speak about myself because of them. When I paint these women I want to celebrate them. I notice how I embrace myself is translated in my paintings.
Anj: What advice can you give to parents who are trying to tap into their kiddos' innate creativity?
Dev: I don't have a lot of guidelines set up. I'll say "Let's draw the biggest fish we can draw" or "how many silly lines can we make" and I let them lead me. They ask me questions, show me things, and I sit there with my coffee watching their eyes wide with excitement. Watching them in their creative process is pure joy for me. Those silly lines can turn into a dragon or waves and next thing we know, we're drawing a big beach scene. My advice would be that you can suggest something to start it off but be open to how they take it. It is such a beautiful window into their minds.
Anj: Shifting gears to HIP HOP DANCE! Talk to us about his component of your creative expression.
Dev: I loved the Hip Hop scene in DC and discovered how much fun the clubs were in college. My friends told me about this Hip Hop Crew I should try out for, I was so scared because I've never taken a dance class in my life. I got in and it was like having another family. We competed all over the East Coast, it was a blast!
I found hipline when I started my first Design Job and needed an outlet. It was exactly what I needed and one of the owners asked if I was interested to teach. I've been teaching there since 2009 and am still going strong. It's a wonderful community of women. Now we're virtual and reaching clients all over.
Anj: What does a typical [pandemic] day look like for you? How does it differ from your rhythm before COVID?
Dev: I've been practicing being kinder to myself lately. Both me and my husband work full time and so having the girls at home is a challenge. Some days we are amazed by how smooth it went and then there are others where if the girls are clean and bellies are full, it's a total win.
Now that we're on month 8 our rhythm before covid felt more chaotic to be honest. I felt like we were always rushing out the door while carrying so many bags. Now my husband and I try to have coffee together, if he has a break from his meeting, and we sit with Quinn before school to see what she has to do for the day. Rowan's preschool closed down but we were able to find a wonderful speech therapist for her and she has an Adventure Pod we go to two times a week.
The one thing we really try to do is go outside once a day. Have some magic in their childhood no matter how small. It could be just going up for a hike by our home and picking up leaves, riding our bikes, or watching the sunset from our window. Seeing how the girls' react to these adventures we have is pure magic.
Anj: When you get creatively blocked or burnt out, how do you reset? Do you have tips you can share?
Dev: I go outside. I go out for a hike or go to the beach. Even if it's 15 minutes, something about grounding yourself in Nature is really healing. I also do exercise where I doodle for two minutes because it feels doable. Judgment-free doodles, always opens the doorway to more.
Anj: I know firsthand that community-building is huge for you. Tell us more about what your support system and creative community looks like.
Dev: I feel a lot of love and strength when I think of my community. My relationship with my sister led the way what women supporting women looks like. It's listening, asking questions, remembering, cheering for all the wins, being there even if it's hard, and taking time to invest in them. The way me and my sister show up for each other is why I have these amazing women in my life. I can talk to them about my family, motherhood, and we're all trying to balance it all while sharing my most recent project. I feel really blessed especially looking back in my college years where I don't know where Art would take me.
Anj: When you need to give yourself a pep talk, what does it sound like?
Dev: I usually take a deep breath then say or think "One step forward". Most of the time, I'm scared (as shit) but the thought of not trying scares me more. That one step forward can be hard as hell and maybe even heartbreaking, but I have to try.