What is the #CloseTheGap Campaign?

The #CloseTheGap Campaign is a 3 day social media campaign to bring awareness to the Gender Pay Gap. The #CloseTheGap campaign aims to equip women with communication strategies to help them become more confident money and the value they bring to the workplace.

The #CloseTheGap Campaign is my communication challenge/research project that I’ve been working on this past fall quarter in graduate school. I decided to focus on the gender pay gap. My main research question that I’ve been working towards a solution this quarter is:

What communication strategies can we equip women to encourage them to speak up about their value – especially in times of promotion and negotiating pay?

I decided to run a 3 day social media campaign because I feel most comfortable with the platforms I already use everyday: my blog Emma’s Edition, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I also believe the blogging community and my followers/friends would genuinely benefit from discussing the Gender Pay Gap.

If you type in “gender pay gap” in the google search bar, you’ll find:

In 2017, (white and Asian) women are making 80 cents to a dollar earns and women of color earn much less – with African American women making 63 cents to a dollar and Hispanic women making 54 cents to a dollar. Yet regardless of all the research, there are many people who say that the gender pay gap is a myth.

Those who choose not recognize the gender pay gap may say it’s because women decide to choose which profession/industries they want to work in. Its women who decide to work part time or not pursue STEM fields. And its women who decide to have children and not ask for pay or promotion. But today, we’ll work to break down these topics that people have used to rationalize the gender pay gap.

1. Life stages, societal norms, and education

The gender pay gap stems from gender bias embedded in societal norms and unequal opportunities for women in every step of their life stages – home norms, education, and career choices. For instance, while sons are expected to move into science and technology, girls are steered towards gender-normative careers. Even when women work towards advancing their education, men make more money per hour at every education level.

From Women’s Work and the Gender Pay Gap:

By the time a woman earns her first dollar, her occupational choice is the culmination of years of education, guidance by mentors, expectations set by those who raised her, hiring practices of firms, and widespread norms and expectations about work–family balance held by employers, co-workers, and society. In other words, even though women disproportionately enter lower-paid, female-dominated occupations, this decision is shaped by discrimination, societal norms, and other forces beyond women’s control.”

Education Graph:

how we can close the gender pay gap - education graph - university of washington - communication leadership


2. How the motherhood penalty fuels the gender pay gap

The motherhood penalty is a main driving force behind the gender pay gap. Specifically, when women choose to have children in their late 20s and mid-30s, the pay gap grows larger. Even when women haven’t had children yet, their employers may refrain from giving them more responsibilities because they assume they will take the time off to have kids.

And when women did have kids and continued to work, employers still perceived that they were less committed to their jobs. There would need to be significant changes in the work place and public policy to achieve gender pay equality.

“The new working paper, which covered the broadest group of people over time, found that between ages 25 and 45, the gender pay gap for college graduates, which starts close to zero, widens by 55 percentage points. For those without college degrees, it widens by 28 percentage points. Much of that happens early in people’s careers, during women’s childbearing years.” (source: The New York Times)

“Women were sometimes overlooked for promotion or challenging assignments because they might decide to have children. When women did have children, co-workers and managers perceived the mothers as having reduced commitment to their jobs – even though these women did now substantially reduce their hours. Mothers worked 92% as many hours as fathers but earned only 53% as much money.” (source: Hilary M. Lips, Springer Science Business Media)

3. “Temporal Flexibility” is not the traditional workplace

gender pay gap - temporal flexiblity - motherhood penalty - fatherhood reward - traditional work place cultures - working mothers impacted

One of the reasons why the motherhood penalty emerges is because traditional work place cultures tend to reward inflexible schedules. So employees (usually men) who can work 60+ hours a week, travel for the company in short notice, or come in on the weekends at a drop of a hat are rewarded for their commitment.

Women have traditionally been the primary caretakers of the household.

Even as women work towards their careers, they still do housework and tend to children or ill family members. Women need more flexible and predictable work schedules. However, higher paying jobs tend to require more hours and are less predictable.

“CLAUDIA GOLDIN: Well, I’d rather not use the word discrimination. Much of the difference has to do with what I call the high cost of temporal flexibility.

SHAPIRO: High cost of temporal flexibility…”

“Disproportionately, women, particularly those who are mothers or who are taking care of others, would like greater predictability in their hours. They would like less on-call hours. They would like fewer periods of long hours. Well, those jobs are often the jobs – the ones that have the longer hours, the less predictability – those are the ones that are often the higher income occupations.”(source: NPR)


4. Women of Color experience even a bigger gender pay gap

gender pay gap not a myth - women of color experience bigger pay gap - gender pay gap facts

 The National Women’s Law Center estimates that black women lose more than $877,000 over the course of a 40-year career as a result of the pay gap. Latina women lose more than $1,000,000.” (source: AAUW)

the gender pay gap - women of color - bigger pay gap

5. Even when you control all the factors, there’s a 5 cents gap

The Gender Pay Gap - 5 percent gap when you control all factors - gender pay gap studies - gender pay gap not a myth

You might have heard that when you control all the factors between men and women (career level, education, experience, etc), only a 5% gap emerges. This 5% gap sounds so much better than the 20% gap but that is still a gap. Women who experience a 3-5% gap earn $500,000 less over a life time and their savings for their social security and retirement are greatly impacted.

“Controlling for factors including career level, hard skills, and more, some researchers put the pay discrepancy at as little as 5% (PayScale puts the controlled wage gap closer to 3%). Which is certainly better than 21% but begs the question: Would you be cool with a 3%-5% pay cut?

According to a 2011 study from Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, “college-educated women working full time earn more than a half million dollars less than their male peers do over the course of a lifetime.” That 3% adds up fast.” (source: Time Money)

Call to action:

I invite you and a friend to talk about at least one of these points. What did you learn about the gender pay gap? Was there anything that surprised you?

Additionally, as a peer, I want to encourage all of you that we don’t have to accept this status quo. We can work to close the gap.

I hope you follow along these next two days!

#CloseTheGap: Day 2: Believe, Know, Ask For Your Value and Day 3: Let’s Talk About Money.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts below or email me at emmasedition@emmasedition.com! I’ll be presenting the outcomes and impact of this campaign this Saturday.