The wage gap: All of us have likely heard about it and felt appalled. Some of us have heard about it and snorted because we couldn’t possibly believe it is true.
Yet, despite what you believe, it is real. This past summer, I experienced it first hand. Without naming the company, I, in 2017, experienced gender bias in the workplace in the form of unequal monetary compensation. I started off the summer excited to be making $12 an hour, because, hey, it was better than minimum wage! A few weeks later, one of my good friends started working with me as well. Two weeks after that, I found out I was making 74 cents less than he was per hour. We were doing the same job. He had no qualifications that should have placed him above me with regard to our hourly wage, and yet there it was in black in white.
So, for the same job, I was getting 5.8 per cent less per hour than my male counterpart. Now, I understand this may sound a bit overdramatic, but to put it in perspective, I worked approximately 50 hours per week. For eight weeks of work I would earn $4,800 while my male friend would earn $5,096, excluding taxes, of course. $200 may not seem like the biggest difference, but in the long run, with all the extra costs of living as a woman (such as a pink razor costing more than one that is blue, a.k.a. the Pink Tax), this difference is huge. I am not naive. I understand the world is not a fair place, but to see this in my pay stubs weekly was extremely harmful to my self-concept. Was my work not as valuable as my male co-worker’s? Was my time worth less than anyone else’s? When confronted about this, the management staff told me not to discuss wages. They offered no explanation except snappy retorts about how other individuals’ income was none of my business.
Sadly, my experience is not the only one like it. The wage gap between white men and women is roughly 7.4 per cent in New Brunswick. Even more than I experienced! And, when the intersection of gender and race occurs, these numbers grow even more. In Canada, racialized men and women earn 77.9 cents and 55.6 cents, respectively, compared to every dollar earned by a white person. Earnings for trans women can drop to a point where they only earn 66 per cent of what they did before publically transitioning. It is shocking to me that this remains an issue in 2018, where individuals in power are oh-so-quick to claim their feminist badge. This is especially frustrating when the simple request of pay equity seems to cause such a ruckus because many refuse to believe it.