Feminism Won’t Close the Wage Gap, but Transparency Can

I’ll confess that I don’t consider myself a feminist.


Except the definition of feminism, “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities” kind of, sort of, makes me one.


I believe in equal rights for all humans and I believe in respecting one another no matter our gender, race or any other stereotypical discrimination. So feminist, humanist, equal rights-ist, whatever you choose to call it, that’s what I am. No third-wave, neo-feminist, post-neo...I’d prefer not to be slotted into a category by society, the media, or gender studies scholars.


I also believe in statistics, numbers don’t lie. And there is no hiding that women in the workforce are paid less than men. The most recent studies estimate that women get paid only 78 cents to the man’s dollar.


In the grander scheme of things, sure 78 cents isn’t bad, but why? Rent, bills, and cars still cost women the same as men and let’s not get started on clothing, shoes, and make-up. If anything, it costs more to be a woman (just compare prices for getting a men’s shirt versus a woman’s shirt cleaned at the dry cleaner).


Glassdoor is looking to shake up corporate America. They have started the Share Your Pay movement, allowing companies to openly post all salaries for everyone to see. From the CEOs to assistants, every salary can be viewed by anyone, in an attempt to promote transparency.


How many times have you seen a viral picture of a credit card receipt from a disgruntled server who got stiffed on a $200 tab? As a former server, I understand the feeling. Millennials want people to feel what they are feeling. They want you to be just as upset as they are. And when the opposite happens, and they make 100% on a $200 check, they similarly want to show the world that not everyone is bad.


Millennials have created this culture where sharing is the norm. Had a fight with your significant other? Post it to get some advice. Did you just make the most delicious meal ever? Snap a picture to share with your followers. It’s no different when it comes to salaries, millennials are very open to sharing with their peers how much they are making, or how much they aren’t making.


Glassdoor’s recent roundtable on Pay Equality featured women and men from all different industries, even Hillary Clinton made time to contribute to this hot topic. Many areas were discussed, but each expert panelist couldn’t stress enough how much transparency with salaries is essential in closing the wage gap. The key is focusing on job performance rather than who is doing the work.


Robert Hohman, CEO and Co-Founder of Glassdoor, said: “Companies that get in front of this issue will have a disproportionate advantage to hiring quality employees.”  


If something as simple as paying someone what they deserve to be paid because of their skills and experience can help companies retain the top talent, why would anyone discriminate based on their gender?


The shift in corporate culture because of the ever-so-eager to share employees opens the floor for people to speak freely on the issue. Companies need to start doing the right thing again.


Because a mother explains that a year gap in employment was due to caring for a newborn, doesn’t mean she wasn’t continuing her education, or networking during that time and it definitely does not mean the company can offer anything below a deserving salary for the position. It’s not a feminist stance, it’s general human rights.


While you won’t find me picketing outside the Congress Building on this issue; I do think proper education on the issue is needed. Teaching emerging generations about equal rights in the workplace and the power of salary negotiation will provide them the tools they need to make an informed argument when discussing these topics in the future. Here’s the thing: We’re not asking for more (as women), we’re simply asking for the same.


I will end with a story Hillary Clinton shared during the Glassdoor roundtable. (And I am paraphrasing here.)


“I was out on the campaign trail and a young girl asked, ‘if you’re elected girl president, will you be paid the same as the boy president?’”


Because I want to have hope for future generations, it’s time to start talking!


Last Updated: April 13, 2016
About the author

Cally Martin

Callan is a social media loving, blog writing, event planning freelancer who believes in the power of the oxford comma. Originally from America’s high-five (Michigan), she’s been in Austin since 2015 and doesn’t plan on moving anytime soon. When not attached to WiFi, she can be found running around the lake or drinking mimosas at brunch.