Women's History: The Fight to Close the Pay Gap Continues

Women's History: The Fight to Close the Pay Gap Continues

Mar 3, 2022

According to research conducted by Legal Momentum, women are 35% more likely to experience poverty than men. And because of the strong link between poverty and food insecurity, women are significantly more likely to face hunger as well. 

At Harvest Hope, we believe that as we take time to celebrate the many accomplishments of women in our communities during Women's History Month, we must also recognize the economic barriers that women must overcome every day.

Did you know that even though women make up almost half of the workforce, they account for 60% of the United States' lowest paid workers (Legal Momentum)? Women are just as capable as their counterparts in the workplace, so where are these disparities coming from?

While the pay gap has been shrinking over the years, unequal pay is still a very real reality for many American women. In 2021, Payscale reports than when accounting for location, education, experience, and industry, the adjusted pay gap lies at 98 cents on the dollar. This may not seem like much, but over time, it can really add up. And because the salary at a new job is often based on a candidate's previous salary, many women get caught making significantly less over time, even as they get promoted. This also means that frequently the continuation of the pay gap isn't even intentional. But by recognizing it's reality, we can prevent pay gap practices from becoming a reality in our own places of work.

The raw gender gap is even higher, sitting at 82 cents for every dollar made by men (Payscale). This means that the average woman, partly due to gendered expectations in the work field and higher education, makes only 82% of what the average man makes. These discrepancies can make it harder, especially for single women or female heads of household, to build savings over time.

A lack of paid parental leave can also play into this. When paid leave isn't an option at a workplace, some women are forced to take time away from work without an income after giving birth. This time spent without an income can create a lot of financial stress on a family's budget and make food insecurity a more likely reality. This is magnified when the woman is the primary provider for the family. While the economic burdens of raising a child affect both single mothers and single fathers, single-parent households headed by women are almost 10% more likely to face food insecurity than those headed by men (USDA Economic Research Service).

Financial inequalities, enabled by unfair practices in workplaces, can make women more susceptible to economic crises that are often followed by a period of food insecurity. By talking about these, we can make sure they don't go unnoticed, and don't become persisting realities.

When it comes to issues larger than us, it can be hard to know what to do. Sharing information is a big part of change. Take time to support women in the workforce by seeking out female-run or owned businesses in our communities. Check out these S.C. Women in Business 2021 across Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston areas, or do your own research to get started.