We’ve all heard of the gender pay gap. For every $1 men earn, women earn 83 cents. The gap gets even wider for women of color. Black women are most likely to be paid less despite having the same level of experience as men doing the same job. Yes, we need to advocate for women to earn higher salaries, encourage them to negotiate for their worth and ask for raises. But the problem goes deeper.
Representation in leadership is still a problem. Women make up the minority of the C-suite. In 2021, the percentage of senior leadership roles held by women was only 31% globally, according to the Grant Thornton Women in Business 2021 Report. Just 2% of venture capital was given to female founders in 2021, which was the smallest share to women since 2016.
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Discussed even less often, but all the more worrisome, is the gender wealth gap. Even more disturbing than women earning less than their male counterparts is that for every dollar owned by a man, a woman owns a mere 32 cents. For Black and Latina women it is astoundingly worse at just one cent. Both of these numbers were pulled before the Great She-cession of 2020: according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the first weeks of the pandemic roughly 3.5 million women with school-aged children either took a leave, lost their job or left the job market entirely.
While wages are a component of wealth, they are only one factor. Several reasons are discussed for the wealth gap, including the fact that on average, women tend to invest less than men. Another reason is debt. Did you know that women as a whole make up 56% of college students but account for nearly two-thirds of outstanding student loan debt? (Spoiler alert: this disparity also is worse for Black women).
So, what are the takeaways here? There’s still a long way to go, but awareness and education are always the first steps. When we are aware there is a problem, we can make the informed decision to work to do better. While this is a systemic issue, here are three things you can do today to fight these gender disparities.
- Support with your dollar. (Dare I say #PayWithChange?) Be mindful about where you put your money. Support female-owned businesses and invest in solutions-oriented causes you care about.
- Educate yourself. Whether you are a man or a woman, it is important to be aware of these disparities, to discuss them and to talk openly about money with your community, partners and families.
- Be an ally. This is another one for both men and women. Hire women, lift women up and support the women in your life.