What about women’s jobs? #EqualPayDay

What about women’s jobs? #EqualPayDay

It’s equal pay day which means you should brace yourself for a lot of conversations from men proclaiming the pay differential isn’t actually an issue.  Statistics show that the median gender pay gap is still 79 cents to the dollar. For Black women that number falls to 63 cents and Hispanic women only earn 54 cents for every dollar a white man makes. People dismiss these numbers because they claim women choose to make less in their lifetimes. Yes you read that right. Cultural biases that push women into lower paying careers are obviously a women’s choice. Punishment for having a child financially is a woman’s choice. Less mentorship, more difficulties negotiating, fewer promotions are all women’s choices apparently. But what about sexual harassment? In the midst of #MeToo we should also be talking about the economic consequences for women in the workplace as a result of sexual harassment.

One of the big #MeToo stories this year were accusations against New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush. Glenn   Thrush had multiple accusations of getting drunk with women and making unwanted advances after hours. The part of the story that stuck out to me was that when the women rejected him, he badmouthed them at work. Thrush is a well-known journalist with a lot of influence. His badmouthing women could have long term effects for their careers. A common refrain during #MeToo is the question, “Is it really ruining a man’s career over that?” Well I have the reverse question. What about the women’s careers ruined by sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment can have all kinds of effects on a woman’s career. If a superior is harassing her she might risk losing her job if she doesn’t submit or speaks up, she could risk being blacklisted from entire companies or fields. Women often leave jobs rather than continue dealing with sexual harassment. Rumors can follow them from job to job. Women are often forced to choose between putting personal safety or their careers first.

Joni Hersch, an economist and professor of law and economics at Vanderbilt University, published a study on women’s pay and sexual harassment in 2011. She found that women employed in workplaces where sexual harassment is common earn a bit more than they would in jobs with a lower risk. However, Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, makes the argument that women not willing to put up with harassment are being pushed out into lower-paying jobs. (https://www.vox.com/2017/11/30/16706162/sexual-harassment-wage-gap-studies)

Women who experience sexual harassment at work are 6.5 times more likely to leave their jobs compared with women who don't, according to research by Amy Blackstone, Christopher Uggen and Heather McLaughlin. Blackstone also said that when these women leave their jobs they often end up in less lucrative fields or positions, which has a negative economic effect on women throughout the rest of their careers. (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-sex-harassment-women-pay-20180114-story.html)

These statistics show that a reason for women choosing lower paying fields might in large part be because they have more women in them and less harassment. Women might have more job changes which would result in fewer pay raises and less leverage in a negotiation due to sexual harassment. This week Tony Robbins said his powerful male clients were hiring fewer attractive women because they were worried about harassing them…so yeah there might be a few reasons sexual harassment in the workplace contributes to the gender pay gap. We must add the economic conversations to our #MeToo discussions. Next time someone asks you if an accusation is worth ruining a man’s career, why don’t we turn the question on them? Is protecting the man’s career worth the harm done to the woman’s?

Photo by Niels Steeman

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