Pay Inequity: We're Tired of Talk and Watching the Wheels Turn Slowly

 My Sports Illustrated co-workers at our annual [Walter] "Bingham Bowl." We worked and played sports together, but when it came to the paychecks we received for the jobs we did I'm pretty sure the women, including me, were paid less than the guys. And since men were promoted more often than women, their salaries rose quicker and higher, too.

My Sports Illustrated co-workers at our annual [Walter] "Bingham Bowl." We worked and played sports together, but when it came to the paychecks we received for the jobs we did I'm pretty sure the women, including me, were paid less than the guys. And since men were promoted more often than women, their salaries rose quicker and higher, too.

I'll never know if I was paid the same as what the guys I sat next to at Sports Illustrated and Time were paid. I never saw their paychecks. They didn't see mine, and it wasn't something we talked about except in legal actions. Newsweek's gender discrimination case – The Good Girls Revolt – led the way, and soon women at Time, Inc. followed, forcing the corporate officials to release documentary evidence of lots of gender inequity, including hiring, promotion and pay. Other media women's lawsuits dotted the 1970s adding to the plethora of legal evidence of women's unequal pay and treatment.

After seven courageous women at The New York Times took that newspaper into federal court with charges of gender discrimination, evidentiary documents revealed that in 1975 men at the Times were paid $98.67 cents per week more than women and $5,160 more per year. Among notes the court rescued from the files was this one, quite typical of many others:

We’ll take your word on Pamela Kent, of course. What does she look like? Twiggy? Lynn Redgrave? Perhaps you ought to send over her vital statistics, or a picture in a bikini.
— Written by Dan Schwarz, Sunday Editor to a Times employee who had recommended an application for a job in Sunday Department

Yet as a young woman at Sports Illustrated I wasn't protesting my pay but basking in the privilege I had of doing a man's job which I loved – covering Major League Baseball. I refused to whine about how tough it was to do my job reporting on baseball with the gender handicaps the sport placed on me. Here's how I'm writing about this in my opening chapter of Locker Room Talk:

Complaining about bothersome things that routinely happened by dint of being female – both in SI’s office and at the ballpark – tagged us as whiners. Still does. Even the word “whiner” sounds blackboard scratchy and irritating. I had only to gaze down rows of reporters’ offices at SI to realize that plenty of my peers, a lot of them guys, would happily take my place on the baseball beat. Enough complaints from me and one probably would since it was a whole lot easier to replace me than to argue with baseball about access.
— Melissa Ludtke, Locker Room Talk

So how far have we come in four decades? Well, check this headline ‘Selfish young ladies’: Massachusetts publisher fires newspaper editor after pay-equality spat" atop this Washington Post story. The young ladies in question are women reporters who found out they are being paid less than their male counterparts at the Daily Hampshire Gazette, a newspaper in Western, MA.

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Or dip into the Carnegie Mellon University study which found that when an equal number of job-seeking men and women visited 100 recruitment sites, men were shown the ad for the highest-paying job (jobs with salaries of more than $200,000) six times more often than women were.

Or absorb this business mom's essay: Moms are punished in the workplace, even when we own the business

Or join Ms. Webster, one of five career women who got together with a New York Times reporter to talk about women's pay inequities. 

Ms. Webster, 36, who says she left the law firm she was working for in 2016 after she wrote a letter to the partners suggesting that they were acting out unconscious bias. ‘At least for one case, and it may have been for multiple cases, my time was being billed out at a lower rate than two of the three white, male paralegals,’ Ms. Webster said. ‘The very next business day, I got put on a performance improvement plan,’ she added. ‘They were putting the paperwork in motion to either justify firing me or getting me to leave.’”
— Ms. Webster in New York Times roundtable on women's pay inequities

I read all of these stories within the past week. So is there progress? Yes, mainly because women keeping fighting to make progress on pay inequity happen. So grudgingly, it has, though much too slowly, as any of us paying attention know all too well.