By Kyra Charles
In 1974, an amazing ad* aired on television. Batman and Robin are tied up in an abandoned warehouse with a bomb ready to explode. Batgirl swings in, presumably to rescue our heroes. However, she stops dead in her tracks in front of the bomb, refusing to defuse it. Why? “I’ve worked for you a long time, and I’m paid less than Robin!” she declares. The announcer leaves us on a cliff-hanger, with Batgirl’s heroism depending on the passage of the Federal Equal Pay Law*.
Forty-six years later and pay inequity is still the norm. According to the AAUW*, the average woman earns 80 cents for every dollar paid to men, and it’s often less than that for women of color. Of course, there are arguments as to why this is the case. One is that women are frequently paid less because of inexperience. But pay inequality has already lasted through generations of women who’ve built careers for themselves. Like Batgirl, some are even paid less than men in junior roles*.
Then there’s the argument of children; that women usually take amateur jobs so that they can raise them. Even so, a study from Business Insider shows that mothers are actually paid more than women without children, and both groups are still paid less than men*. Women are pressured to prioritize children over their jobs, and then punished by their jobs by not being paid enough to care for their children.
Pay inequity effects women of all walks of life, refusing to budge over antiquated ideas of a woman’s place. According to the statistics, at the rate we’re going, equal pay won’t be achieved in the US until 2059, almost one hundred years after the Equal Pay Act was passed*. But I’m not interested in waiting. Due to the effects of the coronavirus, the UMKC Women’s Center couldn’t have its annual Equal Pay Day table, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do! AAUW has several different resource kits for how to educate and fight for this issue, from calling your representatives to recruitment events. You can also further educate yourselves and others on this topic and break the taboo of salary silence. We shouldn’t have to hold a bomb over our boss’s heads to be paid equal to our male counterparts.