What Do Entertainment, Retail And Athletics Have In Common? The Wage Gap

By Susanne Loxton

Many people are quick to shut down the idea of the wage gap, calling it a myth. These people only understand the surface statistics of the wage gap, and haven’t bothered to analyze those statistics to realize what they mean. Factors relevant only in the lives of us women, such as pregnancy and raising children, limit the ability of our working as many hours as a man in any given workplace.

This can sometimes lead to breaks in job history, or a woman raising children having to take on a part-time job. Employers often don’t care that lapses in work history or a reduction in working hours were necessary, and in salary negotiations, these periods of time are often held against women. We are viewed as less experienced, and because of this, employers deem us as not being worthy of an equally experienced man who has not had to take time off for the benefit of his family.

Some employers worry that a woman may become pregnant, and this will affect her work. From the beginning, these women aren’t afforded with the same opportunities as men in the same workplace. This puts men on a faster track to success while placing unnecessary limitations on equally skilled women. It happens every day, and while it may not be as clear cut as deniers make it look, the effects harm women everywhere.

The Pay Gap in Entertainment

Actress Robin Wright took on very memorable roles in films several decades ago. You may remember her as Princess Buttercup in the cult classic, The Princess Bride. Perhaps you remember her as Jenny in the multiple-award-winning film Forest Gump. She disappeared from view for a little while to start her family. She had children, and stayed with them to raise them up. Recently, Wright resumed her acting career on Netflix’s critically acclaimed series ‘House of Cards’, alongside Kevin Spacey. Not only does Wright act in the show, but she’s also directed several episodes.

Spacey and Wright equally share the spotlight on ‘House of Cards’, and both of them have walked away with Golden Globe awards for their performances. There was only one problem: Spacey was being paid significantly more than Wright, and the disparity was attributed to the years she spent with her family. Wright was doing the same amount of work (even more if you include her directorial efforts) and was featured as often as Spacey.

Wrights answer was to demand to be paid exactly the same as Spacey, and she was a tough negotiator. She threatened to go public about salary inequality of the show’s budget was not rearranged to meet her demands. She was promptly awarded a salary identical to Spacey’s, and continues to work on the show.

The Pay Gap in Athletics

Soccer is one of the most beloved sports across the world. Ask Carli Lloyd, and she’ll be eager to tell you. She’s been playing soccer for the United States for over a decade, and is a two time Olympic gold medalist. Lloyd was playing on the team that drew in the highest American TV rating of all time for soccer. As the captain of the women’s team, most of its success can be directly attributed to her – but not most of the profits she helps draw for the soccer federation.

Recently, Lloyd went public about the extent of the disparity in pay. In an essay she wrote for the New York Times, she presented some staggering figures. The top five most successful male soccer players in the US earn an average annual salary for $406,000. The women? A paltry $72,000. The difference is shocking, and Lloyd is actively working to raise awareness while fighting for equality.

The Pay Gap in Retail

Betty Dukes, a former Walmart employee, noticed some peculiar structuring within the corporation. Two thirds of all management positions were held by men, and when she looked further up the corporate ladder, she realized there were hardly any women in sight. Over a million other employees joined her in a formal lawsuit against Walmart, the majority of them women, when they realized that the system was designed to lock women out.

Ultimately, the court found the case too difficult to settle. With so many plaintiffs in varying situations, it was complex to determine where the common ground was for a single-issue mass lawsuit. The case was thrown out. This didn’t stop Dukes, who is now consulting with lawmakers about the Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act, which seeks to end systemic discrimination and large pay gaps across all varieties of employment.

In conclusion, there are a few things worth remembering. For one, remember that silence won’t fix the problem. Be vocal. If you feel like you’re a victim of workplace oppression, you don’t have to tolerate. If you can’t negotiate your way to fairness, make your situation known. It’s working for these women, and it can work for you too.


Susanne Loxton is an experienced writer with a passion for women’s issues in the professional world. On a daily basis, Susanne works for Aubiz, a compendium of knowledge about companies in her native Australia. Follow her on Twitter @LoxtonSusanne

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