At each intersection of gender (sexual orientation, race, religion, socio-economic group, etc.), the struggle for equality is real and pervasive, and at each crossing of the axis there are unique challenges. That said, women, collectively, no matter what intersection they meet at, have very similar money-related issues that men overwhelmingly do not have to deal with. From the up-marked prices of every day personal care items to the sometimes huge and glaring pay gap, women deal with much more financial inconveniences than men do.
People can try to underplay this issue all they want, but the fact is that in 2015, women think about money differently than men do. Not because they want to, but because the world and the institutions we abide by make it virtually impossible not to. It's not a choice. Women have to worry about different things than men do when it comes to money, a fact that we're exposing more and more as we chip away at the taboo of feminine finances. With more women speaking out about unequal pay, and more women looking for financial independence, it's important to be aware that until women and men have equal issues with money, we can't achieve economic gender equality.
1. The Taboo Of Talking About Money
Even in 2015 it's often considered improper for women to talk openly about money, especially their own money. Women are socialized to keep their finances private, and in the process, make talking openly about money a taboo. Men, on the other hand, tend not to be brought up with the same values, most likely because traditionally men are considered to take on the role of main or sole bread winner for a family.
2. The Wage Gap
Wage gap deniers, the evidence is right in your face — the wage gap is real. If you're a woman, it's likely you earn less than your male counterparts in the same jobs, and if you're a woman of color even less still. On average, women earn just 79 percent of what men in similar jobs earn. Over the years of her career, the average woman loses out on between $700,000 and two million dollars compared to male counterparts.
3. The Beauty Tax
Did you know personal care products targeted at women cost more than the ones targeted at men? Did you know this applies to products that are, aside from their color (pink or blue) and targeted audience, exactly the same? From razors to haircuts to dry cleaning to deodorant, women pay more for their products and services — even when they're the same as the male version.
4. Tampons And Other Menstrual Products
It should go without saying that cisgender men don't have to bear the monthly burden of the cost of a period. Between tampons, pads and all those hot water bottles, pain relievers, and other accoutrements to deal with cramps, having a period is really expensive. It's estimated that having a period will cost roughly $18,171 across the span of a lifetime.
5. Reproductive Health
Women have to pay closer attention to their reproductive health than cisgender men. We all need to get STD checks and other general wellness checkups, but women have to deal with regular pap tests and birth control, too. Add to that treatments for irregular pap tests, and the financial burden starts adding up in a way that it doesn't for cisgender men. Now that Planned Parenthood is under threat, the burden could become even greater, especially for women of color. In fact, for the uninsured, birth control could run upwards of $1,600 a year, while pap tests can cost anywhere from $175 to upwards of $500.
6. The "Social Cost" Of Salary Negotiation
Research has shown that there's a significant social cost to salary negotiation for women, which is negligible for men. Whether consciously or not, women are made to feel awkward, by the social environment they inhabit, about asking for more pay in a way that men do not — and that once they do negotiate, they are perceived less favorably, whereas a man who did the same garners more respect. That feeling is clear enough that women are deterred from salary negotiation. This can be the difference between earning an acceptable salary for a job and being underpaid.
7. Maternity Leave
Sure, it's important for men to have paternity leave, but women who become pregnant don't really have a choice considering the necessary medical leave. Maternity leave is not generous in the US, and while men can physically continue working through the birth of their child, women don't have the same option. Regardless of that, they're not given much of an opportunity for maternity leave either, as there is no national paid maternity leave mandate in the US. Research shows that mothers who take off work to take care of their children, only 43 percent return to the workplace, and a huge factor of that is the lack of support for working mothers and the burden of childcare falling primarily on them.
8. Motherhood Not Being Considered "Real Work"
Meanwhile, being a mother isn't even considered commensurate with an office job, so stay-at-home mothers (which are still statistically much more common than stay-at-home-fathers in the US) become wildly under-valued. It's not that being a stay at home mom is exactly the same as going to an office place, because it's not — it's that the value of the work done by a stay at home mother has no monetary value. Salary.com found that it would cost, based on the tasks done by stay at home mothers, $113,586 to replace a stay at home mother with paid labor.
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