No one is more aware of the Gender Pay Gap than I am, being a female business owner in a male-dominated industry for decades now. I am well aware of what women bring to the table in terms of income and work in the home. Think about it: Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, only backward and in high heels!
American history is full of amazing women who redefine our rights, how we see society, and how we treat our fellow human beings. Yet, even though women hold a slight population majority, our earning potential is routinely limited because of our gender.
During the ’70s and all the way up to the early 2000s, there was a movement to repair the difference in salaries and equal pay with a number of proposed bills and social activities that slowly stagnated. For the past 15 years, the gender gap has remained roughly the same, where women earn 84% of what men bring home. So, how do we change this? By using a few simple solutions to increase the income of women everywhere.
1 - Raise the Minimum and Tipping Wage
It may be a political football, but the fact is women make up a disproportionate share of low-wage workers. Nearly one-third of the gender wage gap could be remedied by increasing the federal minimum wage to a little over $10.10 per hour. This would lift these wages above the poverty line and into a somewhat living wage.
This difference is most visible in those jobs where women rely on tips for income. Women make up two-thirds of tipped workers, a section of the economy with a higher poverty rate than non-tipped workers.
2 - Affordable Childcare
Again, this is another political hot spot. It is somewhat surprising how many women’s issues are frequently debated and used for brownie points in elections. The unfortunate reality is that women are still perceived as the primary caregiver. That means the weight of finding affordable, high-quality childcare falls on their shoulders. However, 65% of children under the age of 6 either live with a single parent, usually a mom, or two parents that work full time.
The average cost for a nanny in 2020 was $612/week, $340/week for childcare, and $300/week for a family care center. You cannot afford these prices if you’re a single mom working late nights at a tipping job. Now you have to decide between raising your kids and earning a decent wage. Offering low-cost, safe, and reliable childcare to kids could revolutionize women's earning potential.
3 - Paid Sick Days & Paid Family Leave
A woman that has to decide between caring for her sick child or going to work for fear of being reprimanded is facing an impossible decision. Do you earn money for food or focus on the health of your child. If you do go to work, who takes care of your child? Don’t even get me started on maternity leave in this country.
America offers many things that other places do not, but we are way behind in our family care. For example, we are the only wealthy nation without some form of national paid sick leave. Introducing a simple formula that allows even 10 days of paid sick days or family leave a year could relieve a ton of stress from female workers and slow the rate of women leaving jobs to care for their families.
Summing it Up
I feel like I could talk on this subject for hours. There are so many ideas out there that have promise, like pay transparency, fair scheduling practices, and more, but I wanted to conclude this post with a fundamental truth all women in the US need to hear - No one is coming to the rescue.
I’m not trying to stoke your fears or make you feel alone. I’m trying to be honest with the segment of women at the most risk who need actionable help. If you want to improve your personal financial situation, there is no magical genie on its way to wish away your problems. You need to meet with a financial planner today. Swallow your pride and get a proven, reliable, and trustworthy advisor to give you a complete analysis of your situation and offer real solutions to how you can move forward.
By all means, we as women need to keep fighting for equal, equitable, and fair policies, and I will be there with you doing my part. But that doesn’t solve the problems you have at home right now. Reach out to our expert team at Meyers Financial Services. We can provide you with the information you need to get a better hold of your budget and financial situation. Contact our team today!
Lillian Meyers CFP®, CDFA®, EA is a Financial Planner for Women in Sonoma, California helping clients live their best life through the use of financial planning, investment management, and other sophisticated financial options.