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16 Ways Women Still Aren’t Equal to Men

Why it's better than ever to be a woman—except for these little imbalance issues the world still needs to work on.

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It's a man's world

Women's rights have come a long way; there was a time when women couldn't vote, own property, or serve in the military. Imagine that! But, even though in the eyes of the law women and men are equal, there are still some areas of life where gender equality just doesn't play out like it should.

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Women earn 82 cents for every dollar men earn

The pay gap between men and women has long been discussed and has been a sad fact of life ever since women entered the workforce. The bad news? We're still dealing with it: The most recent data show that women earned 82 cents for every dollar men earn. That means women would have to work far into the next year to earn what the average man earns the previous year. There is some good news, however. Among younger workers, ages 25 to 34, the gap is significantly smaller, with women earning 90 percent of what men do. It's not equal yet but it's great progress! Do you know this one job interview question you should only answer if you're a woman?

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Viagra isn't taxed but tampons are

The items considered a medical necessity—and therefore tax-exempt—isn't as clear-cut as one might hope. But here's what's abundantly clear: Medications and supplies specifically for men often make the list while things many women consider essential don't. "That women still have to fight for birth control coverage on insurance while men often have access to erectile dysfunction medication is an outrage," says Kristin Anderson, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Houston-Downtown and author of Modern Misogyny. Then there are medications that cost more for women, like the popular hair-loss drug, Rogaine, which costs 40 percent more for women than it does for men, even though the medication is exactly the same.

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Less than 24 percent of members of congress are women

In 2020, 51 percent of Americans are women, yet we make up just 23.7 percent of our government representatives in congress. Why? "I think it comes down to two things: A lack of modeling, and stereotypes about what women should be," says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, psychologist and author of Better Than Perfect. Women are often seen as being too soft or sensitive to be in the tough world of politics but the more women see other women killing it in politics, the more they'll be inspired to step into leadership roles themselves, she explains. Thankfully, this situation is changing fast: In 2019, a record number of women were elected to Congress. For more inspiration, check out these 58 trailblazing women who made history.

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Men are more likely to receive higher salaries and raises than women in the same position

One reason for the gender pay gap may be the difference in willingness to ask for more money. For instance, only 7 percent of women tried to negotiate their salary when applying for a job, in one Harvard study. (Hint: It's one of the 8 mistakes women make when negotiating a raise or salary) Women were also more likely to apply for, and accept, lower-paying jobs than men with the same skill level. "Many women are taught that they will be given what they deserve, and if they just do their best then their boss will notice their hard work and reward them with a raise," Dr. Lombardo says. "Men? They just ask for it." This would be a good time to take a page from the men's playbook, she says. "Don't let someone else define what you deserve. Do your research, decide for yourself what you are worth, and ask for what you want," she says.

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Women are less likely to get promoted than men

Thanks to family obligations, a woman's career arc often looks very different than a man's, and one of the primary ways this shows up is in promotions. Even though both genders say they want to be promoted in equal amounts, women are 15 percent less likely to actually get promoted, according to a recent study done by LeanIn and Mckinsey & Co. One problem is that women won't apply for a promotion unless they feel they meet the qualifications 100 percent, while men will apply even if they only partly qualify, Dr. Lombardo says. Another possible reason is that men are seen as more assertive and aggressive in pursuing career opportunities while the same behavior in women is seen as "uncompromising," she adds. Then there's the work-life balance issue: 13 percent of women have turned down a promotion in order to better care for their children, according to data gathered by the Pew Research Foundation.

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Men's deodorant is cheaper than women's

Women have long known that if you want to save a little cash on personal items or services—such as clothing, hygiene products, dry cleaning, and shoes—you should shop in the men's section to avoid the "Pink Tax." A study compared products with nearly identical ingredients and found that almost half the time, the woman's product was more expensive, costing about 13 percent more. Forty percent of the time, the prices were equal, and the remaining 18 percent of the time, men paid more. "The reason for this is the widely held cultural stereotype that women are complicated, and men are simple and straightforward," Dr. Anderson says. "In reality, this just reflects how ludicrous and arbitrary sexism can be." But, she notes, there is some improvement, with some states passing laws banning practices such as different prices for haircuts and dry cleaning. Or take your money to one of these 23 amazing shopping sites that support women.

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Just 20 percent of CEOs are women

The gender gap in leadership increases as the positions do, according to the LeanIn study. At the entry level, 52 percent are men and 48 percent are women. But at the manager level, 62 percent are men and 38 percent are women, at the vice-president level 70 percent are men and 30 percent are women, and by the time you reach the C-suite, the gender gap skyrockets, with almost 80 percent of CEOs being men. "This is the perfect example of the 'old boys club' mentality; men are more likely to promote other men," Dr. Lombardo says. It doesn't have to stay this way, however. One way to start changing this is by using your voice, she says. "Corporate women are often afraid to speak up because they're afraid to be wrong," she explains. "It's OK to be wrong. Failing doesn't make you a failure."

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Ladies are always on dish duty

Women of all ages still tend to do more household chores than their male partners. A study published in the journal Work, Employment and Society found that women do around 16 hours of household chores every week, while men do closer to six. Women also did the bulk of the domestic duties in 93 percent of the couples analyzed. When both the man and woman were employed full time, the women were found to be five times more likely than men to spend at least 20 hours a week doing household chores. "I don't think it's a matter of men refusing to help out—it's just that they don't think about it as much," Dr. Lombardo says. "Women are natural multitaskers and so will automatically do things they see need doing while a man can walk past a sink full of dishes and not even register it as a thing that needs to be taken care of." The solution? Talk it out! Don't be afraid to ask your partner to pitch in, she says.

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Female athletes in most sports earn less

Take tennis, for example: Roger Federer has made $186.8 million in career prize money while Serena Williams has earned $58.4 million in career prize money. And in the ranking of the top 100 highest-paid athletes in the world, Williams is the only woman. It's hotly debated who is the better athlete, but it's apparent from their paychecks which one is the more valued athlete. "In U.S. culture, masculinity is tied to sports, and athletic women threaten the masculine hold on sports," Dr. Anderson says, adding that female athletes are downplayed in other ways too. "In photographs in sports magazines, women are often portrayed off the court or field, in sexualized poses, while men are shown playing their sport. This is a strategy to trivialize their athleticism and make their presence in sports less threatening," she says. Research has shown, however, that sports are making steady, albeit slow, progress in pay equality.

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