John Oliver Explains The Wage Gap For Those Unconvinced Or Confused About It


We dunno about you, but not only are we sick of the wage gap, but we are also sick of people trying to convince others it does not exist. Official stats from the White House and the Department of Labor state that women make 77c out of every $1 a man makes in the United States for doing the same job. Some argue that women aren’t “making enough effort” or that the studies done compared different jobs instead of the same.

Many also dispute the wage gap because there are differing opinions and figures on the actual percentage of the gap. But hey that doesn’t mean it is not real. Sure, things are slowly changing and women are more equipped to demand better salaries, be the best qualified person for the job and step up for leadership positions without being hindered by social and cultural things such as getting marries, having a baby or simply for being a woman, as in the days of old.

But while we have progressed greatly as a society, there are many areas which have not, and ignoring them simply because we are doing well in certain areas is a huge disservice to humanity and our economy.

British HBO host John Oliver explained the wage gap as well as all the misinformation being bandied around perfectly in 7 minutes in the video below.

It is one of our favorite shows at the moment and if you haven’t yet tuned in or don’t have HBO, the Last Week Tonight Youtube channel is pretty quick about putting all the clips online. He talks about all the important pop culture and news items each week and digs up info that we’d be hard pressed to find ourselves. Basically it is one of the best shows to stay informed, in a funny way.


In the most recent episode he explained that all the different news stations and media outlets haggling over the actual gap number in cents doesn’t make the problem go away.

“Let me put this in terms that are easy to understand. If someone takes a dump on my desk the size of the dump is not the issue. I’m not going to say ‘how big of a dump is it? Eight inches? Ten inches? Oh, just three inches! That’s almost like you didn’t take a dump on my desk at all,” he states to a round of applause and laughter from the in-studio audience.

While he goes on to explain facts, figures and shows many clips from various news stations reporting on the topic, including one about monkeys (yes, monkeys and it honestly fits in so well with this story!) he is not just making this stuff up and it doesn’t just affect America. Let’s take out of the equation many of the countries around the world where women aren’t seen as equals as men (i.e, countries where women are not allowed to work, vote be seen in public without men, etc) and just concentrate on the some of the Western countries.

In Australia, a report states that the gender gap A) not only exists, but B) it is growing. It currently stands at 18% which means women are currently earning just 81.8 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earn, down from an average of 85.1 cents ten years ago.

In the UK, it has been reported recently that the recession is responsible for another widening wage gap between men and women. They are looking at at 19% figure which is a five year high (or low, depending on whether you are on the receiving end of that or not).


There are many pundits who claim women choosing to have babies, get married and go on leave from jobs is the result of them not being able to earn the same amount, but that has got to be the biggest load of bull we have ever heard. If there is anyone making excuses, it’s those people. Excuses won’t change the problem, it will change the focus, but not do anything about it.

And sure John Oliver’s segment ends on a hilarious parody solution where women are paid in “Lady Bucks” which equate to 83c for ever $1 a man makes in the workplace, which is posed as a funny solution to men not wanting to pay women equally. It is going to take both men and women working together to decrease the gap.

Maternity leave should not factor in. Men go on leave to for various reasons, yet they are still coming out on top here. Women have to continue stepping up and not being afraid to demand what they are worth. At the same time, employees need to make conscious decisions when it comes to paying salaries.

The very first bill Obama signed when he became President of the United States was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and Lily Ledbetter herself was there to witness this momentous occasion. Lily was the first woman in America to be hired in a management position as Goodyear tires. One day  (19 years after she first started) she received an anonymous note saying that she was making thousands less than her male counterparts each year, and she decided to fight the injustice by taking her case to the Supreme Court.

She lost in court because she did not file a case 180 days after the discrimination started happening. Yeah, that’s a little tricky when you only find out it has been happening for nearly two decades! While the Supreme Court denied her case, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (the same judge who penned a scathing dissent after SCOTUS recently ruled Hobby Lobby was exempt from covering certain contraceptives for its female employees on religious grounds) urged her to continue fighting.

If it wasn’t for women like Lily and men like President Obama who continue to fight for equality in the workplace, we would be much worse off. But there is much work to be done. In the meantime, watch John Oliver’s timely and perfectly executed video below to clear up any confusion and skepticism:






  1. John Oliver is the best. And re Obama, let us not forget that his first action was to sign the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Large bodies move slowly–we just have to continue to exert pressure.

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