The time was 2:38pm. While those numbers on the clock don’t seem like they should hold much significance, in actuality – it’s a powerful time that should spark the attention of every single woman, worldwide.
Our current society struggles with a pay gap that yields women making 14 to 18 percent less than men. Not only is that a huge divide, but the gap won’t close until 2186. (Let that digest for a second.) At the end of October, women in Iceland, a country that is known as the world leader in gender equality, took a stand and left their jobs at exactly 2:38pm, since that’s the time that they were technically being paid to be there until.
We should all be applauding them and their actions.
But, what does it all boil down to? As women, we’re technically working for free after 2:38pm. Free. And no one wants to be working for free, or deserves to be. As successful women, whether we are out working hard for ourselves or working hard for our employer, we have a right to be treated as equals and the pay gap is tremendously important not matter what our current job situation may be.
The pay gap is slow to close and is reported to take about 52 more years before we really see the fruits of our labor and a paycheck that is the same for both men and women doing the same job.
As a business owner myself and a mother of both a boy and a girl, it pains me that my children will grow up in a world where they could hold the same job, for the same company, and be paid different salaries. We live in a world where things can progress so quickly for the good, yet progress is moving so slow in this specific area.
At the end of the day, it’s not really about the money though, is it? It’s about what’s fair. Women in this free nation have strived to be treated equal to men for so long and have measured up neck and neck in almost every area – except the wage gap.
This needs to change and it should matter in a very major way to every female, whether you are out there every day putting your all into a career or you’re a stay at home mom. It all matters just the same.
What can you do to help close the gap quicker?
1. Support Pay Transparency
More often than not, we are urged to not discuss pay in the work place, which means that women aren’t always aware they are making less than their male colleagues. Supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act will enable females to reduce pay secrecy.
2. Support a National Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program
Let’s face it: a majority of the caregiving responsibilities fall on the mother, who in turn are also more likely to leave the work force to stay home with the children. Because of this many women are discriminated against during the hiring process and denied certain opportunities. Men are less likely to face these stereotypes. Estimates have revealed that more than 10 percent of this gap is due to women spending less time in the labor force than men, so having a program like this intact would be very beneficial.
3. Help Pass a Paid Sick Day Legislations
With the same breath, not having to worry about taking a sick day to take care of a child or yourself hold tremendous value, too.
Moral of the story: support, support, support. No woman should have to be faced with this worry while starting her career.
Elizabeth Warren majorly called out "arrogant billionaire" Michael Bloomberg for his history of silencing women through NDAs and closed-door settlement negotiations. Sound familiar? Probably because we already have a president like that. At this point, Bloomberg may just spend the remainder of his (hopefully) ill-fated presidential campaign roasting on a spit over a fire sparked by the righteous anger of women. A lesser punishment than he deserves, if you ask me.
At last night's Democratic debate, Michael Bloomberg could barely stammer out an answer to a question on whether or not he would release any of his former accusers from their nondisclosure agreements. His unsatisfactory response was basically a halting list of what he has done for certain nondescript women in his time at City Hall and within his own company.
But that certainly wasn't enough for Elizabeth Warren, nor should it be, who perfectly rephrased his defense as, "I've been nice to some women." Michael Bloomberg is basically that weird, problematic Uncle that claims he can't be racist, "Because I have a Black friend." In a society where power is almost always in the hands of straight, white, cisgendered, men being "nice" to a lucky few is in no way a defense for benefiting from and building upon the systematic silencing of all marginalized communities, let alone women. Stop and frisk, anybody?
Here is a brief clip of the Warren v. Bloomberg exchange, which I highly recommend. It is absolutely (and hilariously) savage.
But let's talk about the deeper issues at hand here (other than Warren being an eloquent badass).
Michael Bloomberg has been sued multiple times, yet each time he was able to snake his way out of the problem with the help of his greatest and only superpower: cold, hard cash. Each time these allegations have come up, in Warren's words, he throws "a chunk of money at the table" and "forces the woman to wear a muzzle for the rest of her life."
As reported by Claire Lampen of The Cut, here are just a few of his prior indiscretions.
- Pregnancy discrimination—Bloomberg reportedly told a former employee of his to "kill it," in reference to her developing fetus.
- Sexual harassment—You could literally write a book on this subject (someone did), but for the sake of brevity...
"I'd like to do that piece of meat" - Michael Bloomberg in reference to various women at his company.
- Undermining #MeToo—Not only did he defend the accused, but he went on the disparage accusers every step of the way.
- Defaming transgender people—Though he claims to support trans rights, he has also been qupted multiple times as referring to trans women as "some guy wearing a dress."
Furthermore, Warren points out the simple fact that if, as Bloomberg claims, these instances were simply big misunderstandings (He was just joking around!) then why go to all the trouble to cover them up? Does Michael Bloomberg think women can't take a joke? Or can we only surmise that the truth of these events are far darker and dirtier than we could even imagine?
Certain commentators have called Elizabeth Warren's debate presence "agressive," especially in regards to this instance but also continually throughout her entire campaign. If asking poignant questions to known abusers who are seeking to further their own political power is considered "aggressive," then I am here for it. Bring on the aggressive women, please and thank you.
Calling a woman aggressive for being confidant and direct is a gendered complaint. You don't see anyone whining that Bernie is "aggressive" when he goes off on a screaming tangent. Also, have you seen our president? He's basically the poster boy for political temper tantrums. But still, it's Warren that is deemed "aggressive," for honing in on the exact issues that need to be considered in this upcoming election.
This type of derisory label is another aspect of how our society silences women—much like Bloomberg and his NDAs. Because "silencing" is more than just putting a "muzzle" on someone. It's refusing to listen to a person's cries for help. It's disregarding what a woman has to say, because she's too "aggressive." It's taking away someone's power by refusing to truly hear their side of the story. Because if you aren't listening, responding, or even just respecting someone's words, they may well have said nothing at all.
"Silence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard." - Renecca Solnit
Nondiscolusure agreements are a legal gag for people who have experienced harassment and abuse at the hands of those above them.
Gretchen Carlson, possibly the most famous person subject to an NDA, is one of these people. Her story is so well-known that it has even been immortalized on film, in 2019's Bombshell. Yet she is still forced to maintain her silence. She cannot tell her side of the story even when Hollywood can. She was cajoled into her current position after facing harassment in her workplace. She didn't have the power then to do more than accept her fate. And now, she doesn't have the power to tell her story.
She was, and still is being, silenced.
After her experiences, Carlson was moved to fight for all women to have the power over their truths. In a recent op-ed for the New York Times she declared: "I want my voice back. I want it back for me, and for all those silenced by forced arbitration and NDAs."
Carlson may still be tied to her NDA, but there are those who go a different route. Celeste Headlee, who wrote an op-ed on SWAAY about her experience, chose to break her nondisclosure agreement. Though doing so undoubtedly opened her up to numerous legal ramifications, she knew that she could no longer "sign away [her] right to justice."
Because that is what an NDA is all about, signing away a person's right to justice. Their story is their justice. Their NDA is a lock and key. Headlee may have broken through that lock, but she must face the consequences.
Neither Carlson nor Headlee are any less brave for how they have handled their journeys. They are both actively working to shift the cultural and political norms that led them here, and their work will, with hope and time, lead to real change. But they are just two drops in an ocean of women who are held hostage by their nondisclosure agreements, by men like Michael Bloomberg, and by a society that would rather silence them than let truth and justice be had.