The Emotional Cost of Unequal Dollars

Woman Holding a White Paper Slip Saying 'EQUAL PAY'.

Equal pay is not a new struggle. We must thank our sister elders who initiated the battle in the 1800s - back when gender determined how much the paycheck would be, no matter the quality of work produced. We acknowledge the progress from the U.S. government and private companies but must continue to bring awareness to and fight against the significant gaps.

Because women have worked within a system created by and for men, there are rippling impacts that keep us undervalued, disrespected, and unheard. Thankfully we are a resilient and incredibly strong group - we don’t settle, and we always get.shit.done. But we should not have to do it at the cost of our own health and well-being. 

One of the rippling effects stemming from swimming in an unjust system is the financial stress that women feel uniquely. 

The reality is that the layers of responsibility (and unpaid work) have not decreased while women have continued to fight for career advancements and fair compensation. This level of productivity is nothing short of magical, but the physical and mental toll is just as powerful. Caregiving continues to be a hot topic as women are expected to care for children or aging parents while also contributing to the household income. Data shows that women still feel it’s risky to even consider starting a family due to career demotions found in the workplace.

Menstruation and its various physical symptoms are seen as being weak or dramatic, despite data showing that across all women menstruating or not, our productivity is higher. We won’t even get into the non-promotable work women are asked to do, which is just as critical to an organization’s success such as taking notes in meetings, organizing social calendars that build workplace culture, and serve as sounding boards to maneuver workplace conflicts.  

All. Without. Equal. Pay. 

While women are finally in positions that are not at the bottom of the totem pole, the higher-paying jobs are seeing a shift into the startup world, which is primarily run by men. The root of financial stress and burnout felt by women is clear by data:

  • Half of startups have no women in an executive position, and only 40% have at least one woman on the board of directors. The survey includes tech and healthcare executives and founders in the US, the UK, China, and Canada.
  • Women are still dramatically underrepresented in leadership: only 1 in 4 C-suite executives is a woman, and only 1 in 20 is a woman of color.
  • Childcare - Every year, there are trillions of hours of unpaid care work being done, the considerable majority by women, sometimes between 3 and 10 times as many hours as men.
  • In 2022, white women earned an average of 82% of what white men earned - that is 18 cents less per dollar earned for every hour worked. According to an analysis of median hourly earnings of both full and part-time workers. These results are similar to where the pay gap stood in 2002 when women earned 80% as much as men.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau Data, Native women were paid approximately 51% of what non-hispanic white men were paid in 2021. Similarly, Black women also experience wide pay gaps, with data on Black women alone revealing that—despite consistently having some of the highest labor force participation rates—they earned just 64 cents for every $1 earned by white, non-Hispanic men in 2020.
  • The critical unpaid work: compared to men at their level, women leaders do more to support employee well-being and promote DEI—work that improves retention and employee satisfaction but is not formally awarded in most companies. Spending time and energy on work that isn’t recognized makes it harder for women leaders to advance and may partly explain why they are more burned out.

There is no question that we are overloaded with expectations, and at the end of the day - we do not see compensation for it. Burnout is felt physically, it’s felt emotionally, and it’s undoubtedly taking a toll on our future selves. 

We cannot keep quiet. These are real problems that cannot be ignored or justified just because the pay gap is “getting better.” We don’t need to match men, we should surpass them. It has been too long since our skills and accomplishments have been compared to a poorly drawn standard rather than duly granted for what we’ve been doing for our whole world - holding it up. We are proud to be a company that was founded for women by women, working tirelessly to close these gaps and raise the standards.

The history of unequal pay in America

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