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Close the Gender Wage Gap: Ask for a 30% Raise

Friday, August 17, 2012

Kate Bryant quit the film project she was making about the wage gap. But she discovered how the gay rights movement gained ground and recommends similar small, achievable steps for women's rights.

Subhead: 
Kate Bryant quit the film project she was making about the wage gap. But she discovered how the gay rights movement gained ground and recommends similar small, achievable steps for women's rights.




wage gap

Credit: Tax Credits on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).

(WOMENSENEWS)--I recently had to abandon a film I was making about the gender wage gap.

After spending a year on the project I couldn't raise enough money to support all three of us: the film, my dog and me. With my savings depleted, I feel compelled to dive back into a full-time job.

However, even as I digress from this topic, I'd still like to contribute in some small way.

I recently read "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. In it, he describes how the various large successes of the gay rights movement stemmed from a single small victory. It is a startling account that I encourage you to read about.

In brief, after many failed attempts to repeal homophobic laws and encourage awareness in schools, a group called the American Library Association's Task Force on Gay Liberation narrowed its focus to one relatively modest goal. It decided to focus on persuading the Library of Congress to reclassify books about the gay liberation movement. It wanted such books moved from HQ 71-471, or "Abnormal Sexual Relations, Including Sexual Crimes," to something "less pejorative."

The change was made into legislation in 1972. With wide attention to this victory, gay rights organizations were able to catalyze the movement into more and bigger successes.

As Duhigg puts it, "Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advancements into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach."

Focus on Small Wins

The women's movement can focus on small wins as well.

One suggestion is renaming Equal Pay Day (too abstract an idea), to Get a Raise Day.

What if every year, on April 17 (or thereabouts), every woman asked for a raise? What if we did it twice a year? April and September? What if every time a woman got a raise, they helped a friend get a raise? Can we encourage each other? Can we initiate these small victories among ourselves?

There are many factions in the women's movement, but I think we can all agree that we deserve to be paid equally, but first, we must ask for it. If this is just one small thing we can rally behind, surely many bigger victories await beyond.

The advice I was given by Katie Donovan, an equal pay coach and advocate, is to research the salaries in your field, and then ask for 30 percent more than the average (that's what the men are making).

Get comfortable, and each time you ask, it'll get easier.

Kate Bryant is a copywriter, artist and entrepreneur living in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her dog, Arlo. The teaser trailer for her film can be viewed at ThePayGap.com.

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