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 need to work on.
Women earn 83 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 work force. The bad news? Even in 2018, we’re still dealing with it: The most recent data show that women earned 83 percent of what men earn, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time American workers. By this math, it would take an extra 44 days of work for women to earn what men do. 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?)
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 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. This is changing, however, starting with the Obamacare mandate requiring insurers to cover birth control at no cost to women. In addition, many states are looking at getting rid of the “tampon tax” on female items.
Only 1 in 5 members of congress are women
As of 2018, 51 percent of Americans are women, yet we make up just 19 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 2018, more women ran for office than ever before. For more inspiration, check out these 58 trailblazing women who made history.
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 eight 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.
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.
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 recent 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.
Just 19 percent of CEOs are women
The gender gap in leadership increases as the positions do, according to the LeanIn study. At the entry level, 54 percent are men and 46 percent are women. But at the manager level, 63 percent are men and 37 percent are women, at the vice-president level 71 percent are men and 29 percent are women, and by the time you reach the C-suite, the gender gap skyrockets, with over 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.” Check out these female CEOs on their best career advice.
Ladies are always on dish duty
Women of all ages still tend to do more household chores than their male partners, spending more than 50 percent more time on unpaid labor, no matter how many hours they work or how much money they earn in a job outside the home, according to a study published in Sex Roles. A separate U.K. study put the number higher, with women spending 60 percent more time doing things like cooking, cleaning, and caring for children. “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.
Female athletes in every sport earn less
Take tennis, for example: Roger Federer has made $110.2 million in career prize money while Serena Williams has earned $77.6 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. Recent research has shown, however, that sports are making steady, albeit slow, progress in pay equality. For more good vibes, check out all the women in these 13 important moments in Olympics history.
Women do most of the caregiving
Nearly 70 percent of unpaid caregivers—mostly to children or elderly relatives—are women, according to a study done by the Urban Institute. And women spend an hour more each day doing household tasks, including caregiving, than men, even when they too work full-time, according to a study done by Indiana University. “We see it as normal when a woman takes care of the kids, but when we see a dad at the park with his child it’s like ‘Whoa, what’s happening here?’” Dr. Lombardo says. These gender roles may be loosening however, as more men take pride in their role of father instead of saying that they’re babysitting. Is this you? Here’s everything you need to know about senior care.
Women outspend men on medical care by almost 2:1
Women can expect to spend nearly half a million dollars on medical care over the course of their lifetime while men can expect to spend about $350,000 (adjusted for inflation), according to a study published in Health Services Research. Despite a ruling issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) prohibiting gender discrimination in health care and health insurance, women’s care is far more expensive than men’s. Why? Most insurance companies consider women a higher “risk” because they tend to visit the doctor more often, they live longer, and, of course, they have babies.
Women are more likely to die of a heart attack
Heart disease is the leading killer of all Americans, regardless of gender, according to the American Heart Association. Yet, even though women and men tend get heart attacks in roughly equal numbers throughout their lifetime, women are slower to get diagnosed, less likely to get treatment, and more likely to die of a heart attack, according to research done by Harvard. One reason may be that heart attack symptoms look different in women, leading both patients and providers to miss crucial warning signs. (Do you know this one surprising sign of a heart attack in women?) The researchers also found that compared with men, women were less likely to receive adequate immediate and follow-up care, including being prescribed medications such as aspirin and cholesterol-lowering drugs, or to receive advice about quitting smoking.
Women are more likely to live and die in poverty
Poverty is heartbreaking no matter the gender, but recent data show that women are at a much higher risk. Rates of poverty for males and females are the same throughout childhood, but then increase for women during their childbearing years and again in old age, according to the Center for American Progress. And women of color, single moms, and the elderly are even more vulnerable. Poverty has been linked to poor health outcomes including higher rates of suicide and depression, a greater risk of obesity, and a higher rate of infant and maternal death, so the needs of poor women need to be addressed stat. “Because women start out with less, they end up with less, it’s really a vicious cycle,” Dr Lombardo says.
Mothers fare much worse in the workplace than fathers
Two-thirds of working moms said they significantly reduced their hours or quit their job in order to take care of their children, according to the Pew Research survey. This isn’t necessarily a problem on its own, as many women want to make this choice, but the financial repercussions for taking the “mommy track” can be severe and set her back for the rest of her life, Dr. Lombardo says. “Many (but not all) women are naturally more nurturing and emotionally attuned to the needs of others,” she explains. “Unfortunately our society doesn’t inherently value those softer skills. They say, ‘Well that’s nice of you to do that but those skills aren’t worth any money.’” It’s not that mothers should necessarily be paid for taking care of their own kids but rather that we need to make taking leave and returning to work a lot easier, along with a flexible workplace that prioritizes a balanced life for all workers. Do you know these things to never say to a working mom?
STEM industries are still largely dominated by men
Despite efforts over the past few decades to get more girls interested in science, technology, engineering, and math, these industries remain heavily male. For example, more than 90 percent of airline pilots are men—check out this handy chart to see the gender breakdown of jobs. This can turn into a self-reinforcing cycle, Dr. Anderson says. Because men have run these industries for so long, the jobs have become suited to the particular needs of men. “Often this creates a hostile environment for women,” she says. This may be intentional or unintentional but until there is more leadership regarding gender issues and incentive to fix the problem or it will persist, she adds.
Sexual harassment, abuse, and domestic violence hurt more women
Men can be victims of rape and harassment, it’s true, but the statistics show that the vast majority of victims of sex crimes are female. Women are more likely to be catcalled, harassed at work, abused by a partner, molested as children, and sex trafficked according to RAINN. Until men lose status for mistreating women and until these crimes are fully prosecuted, we cannot expect these heartbreaking stats to change, Dr. Anderson says. Don’t miss more everyday things that affect men and women differently.