On Tuesday December 6th, 2016, a new grassroots campaign, What Gap? is urging women around the world to join together to ask for a pay raise. They will do it in overwhelming numbers and they will be undeniable. Here's why:
The 2016 U.S. Presidential election was a groundbreaking moment... but for the wrong reason. Instead of celebrating and embracing the fact that a woman is about to become the most powerful person [sic] in the world, we are left questioning how the most qualified candidate for a job was overlooked by so many people.
And so, once again, we find ourselves discussing gender equality. Some people may roll their eyes when they read those two words, and they'd be right to do so because, simply put, the subject of gender equality shouldn't be an issue in today's society.
"I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling," roused Hillary Clinton in her concession speech. "But someday, someone will." She was right, of course. The problem is that "someday" is an infinitely ambiguous timeframe. Change needs to happen now. Instead of asking how long until we close the gap, the question should be: What Gap?
The underlying issue of the U.S. Presidential election isn't that Hillary Clinton lost and Donald Trump triumphed. No, the issue is that women are facing the same biases that they've always faced and, just as Barak Obama's time in office didn't lead to racial equality, a female president would not have meant that women would have magically woken up on January 20th, 2017, to a world of equal pay or fair representation in the C suite or on the board level of companies. The barriers would still be in place. Doors would still be firmly locked for women. This should make us all angry.
Donald J. Trump's ascendancy to president-elect has led to much soul searching and raised many questions. This election has made gender issues embarrassingly clear for all to see. While it's true that women have made substantial inroads in their pursuit of equality, negative sentiments toward women have always existed--whether consciously or not-- and the gap isn't closing quickly enough. I could reel off many statistics, but I'll just include one from the Office for National Statistics, at the current rate, it will be another 62 years before the work of women in the UK is valued at the same rate as men. Sixty-two years. The year 2078. Let that sink in. I'll be long gone, as will you, probably.
Many Trump supporters explain that they voted for the president-elect because they wanted real change. But real change--progress--shouldn't feel like a setback. This feeling of being transported to a bygone age has left many women asking, 'what do we do now?'
Well, on Tuesday, December 6th, women will rally against unfair and outdated gender biases. What Gap? is a day of action to incite women everywhere to ask their employers for a pay raise - or a promotion, or a career development plan, or a board appointment, or a mentor, or more autonomy, or flexible work hours, or maternity leave policies, or whatever makes sense for each person in her career at the time - an action to collectively move forward. It's a simple yet powerful way to fight the inequality we see every day.
For many, asking for more will be uncomfortable. For some it will be their first time asking, for others it will be something they don't believe they deserve or have earned. I mean, if Donald Trump can be President of the United States of America, anything is possible. So why not just ask? Maybe women will succeed, or maybe they'll need to ask again. The point is to encourage women to get used to asking for what they deserve.
Why is this even important? Well, it's almost 2017.
It's vital that we acknowledge the inequality that women suffer in our global society. But like slavery and past wars, the issue of gender equality should have already been consigned to the pages of history books. Wouldn't you like to live in a world in which a young person hears about the gap in gender equality, and innocently asks: "what gap?"
Now is the time to make a lasting and irreversible impact. Let's take action and not only close the gap but completely obliterate it. Start on Tuesday 6th of December by asking for a raise.