Breaking down the pay gap

Shae Slaughter

As with many issues, sometimes statistics, facts and common sense aren’t enough to convince people that inequality exists in our world. Still, injustice persists. We’re faced with it again and again in the disparity of wages between men and women. Sure, there are plenty of possible reasons for this division, but when it comes down to it, the gender pay gap is real. This discussion has recently been brought into the limelight because Hollywood has made a point of talking about it. 

News stories started taking off within the last few weeks as people like Catt Sadler, a former host on E! News, quit her job after learning that her male co-host made almost double her salary for what was essentially the same job. Both Sadler and her co-host had comparable seniority at E!, too. A similar storyline exists in the reshooting of some scenes for the upcoming movie “All the Money in the World,” for which Michelle Williams was paid $1,000 for her work, while Mark Wahlberg received an astounding $1.5 million, according to Newsweek. 

It’s upsetting to see the gap in Hollywood stars’ salaries, but it’s even more disconcerting to know that plenty of average people are affected by this same problem. Everyone deserves a fair wage, but in Hollywood even the female performers who are given half as much as their male counterparts are oftentimes still walking away with millions of dollars. Of course, that isn’t the case in traditional lifestyles. For many of us, this pay gap isn’t only about equality: It’s about survival.

Part of the reason the pay gap persists is the career choices that men and women oftentimes pick. At face value, the pay gap exists because statistically, men are more likely than women to have careers as CEOs, while women are more likely than men to be teachers. Those examples are rather particular and extreme, but they demonstrate the point. It is illogical to assume that men and women will be paid the same for work that requires different qualifications. So, if career choice is the only facilitator of this pay gap, it would be nearly impossible to fix. But it turns out it’s not. 

Even within the same roles, women can only be expected to earn 80 to 90 percent of what men do, according to Forbes’ Jonathan Webb. These numbers aren’t nearly as bad as they used to be, but in an increasingly expensive world, it means that that money really matters. Over the course of a working career, that pay gap could mean the difference between buying a house, paying off student debt or even being financially stable. 

Hollywood is speaking out about this, so why aren’t we? Occasionally the issue of pay equality will rear up, but still the problem isn’t solved. We rally around these actresses and TV hosts, so why don’t we show support for our mothers, sisters and friends? It doesn’t take a lot to see that these inequalities shouldn’t exist. No two people working in the same position with the same qualifications should see a huge disparity in their wages or their benefits. Let’s get on the same page, society. Or better yet, let’s get on the same payroll.