It’s Equal Pay Day, and last month a Kansas City woman asked men to send her $5 in an effort to combat the pay disparity faced by her gender.
Candace Ladd can personally attest to the gender wage gap. At a previous social services job in Overland Park, she was hired alongside a male counterpart with equal experience but she says she was offered 20 cents per hour less.
That amount may seem nominal, but it’s symbolic of a nationwide disparity in pay between men and women in the workforce. A National Partnership study found women earn an average of 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. That translates to about $10,000 less per year for the average full-time working woman. Equal Pay Day is meant to raise awareness of this disparity.
Ladd’s request for $5 from men, then, was a modest one. Even so, she didn’t expect any takers after posting the entreaty on March 8, International Women’s Day.
She was pleasantly surprised to receive $10 total from two men, one she hadn’t seen in years. The other is a friend. Both had expressed feminist views on social media.
“Seeking justice for people who don’t have privilege can be small and direct,” Ladd said. “You can affect change in your own life, person to person.”
The mental health case manager, who now works in Kansas City, Kan., said some view her field and fields such as education as “pink-collar jobs,” or predominantly worked by women. Job expansion is focused elsewhere, Ladd added, in male-dominated fields like technology.
“I think if (social services) was seen as man’s work, then it would be more highly paid,” Ladd said. “We don’t think about Medicaid expansion and increasing funding to schools (as a means) to create jobs.”
Closing the gender pay gap in $5 increments is obviously unrealistic (Ladd forwarded half of her $10 to another woman, and spent the other half on coffee), but for her, the gestures from her male counterparts were positive signs.
“Equality requires some sacrifice on the hand of the privileged,” she said.