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What Catt Sadler’s E! News Exit Means for Equal Pay

The wage disparity among America’s working men and women once again had a moment in the hot seat after the announcement that Catt Sadler, long-time E! News co-host, has decided to split with the network over salary disputes.

Sadler said that the reason behind leaving was due to the company’s refusal to pay her the equal of co-host Jason Kennedy’s salary. At the time, his wage was almost double hers.

There have been a number of acts and laws designed to combat the inequality such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Another act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, was introduced in early 2017. The proposed piece of legislation is designed to add protections to its predecessors as well as increase transparency in regard to salary reports.  

And while the wage gap has certainly made progress since the 1980s when women were paid just 67 percent compared to the current 80 percent women make for every dollar a man earns, the dispute of “equal work, equal pay” trudges on.

“Information is power. Or it should be,” Sadler wrote in her statement. “We are living in a new era. The gender pay gap is shrinking, although admittedly we have a long way to go. And well, I learned this first hand. My team and I asked for what I know I deserve and were denied repeatedly.”

In an article published by the Washington Post, pay gap deniers referenced three major claims to support their argument that wage difference among genders was merely a myth.

The first claim is that women choose lower-paying jobs. The fact of the matter is that some jobs became lower-paying overall when women started being hired for those positions. The Post referenced a study conducted by sociology professors Paula England, Asaf Levanon, and Paul Allison that states this trend could be attributed to queuing and devaluation.

“Queuing” in this sense, means that as the pay for a specific job begins to decline, the less likely people are to want that job. The second term, “devaluation,” refers to the trend of society viewing female-occupied professions as less valuable than male-occupied professions.  

The second claim is that women choose to work part-time. Women often take career breaks or fewer working hours for family reasons, but to say that it’s a free choice to work less than 35 hours a week is a blanket statement that overlooks many variables of the equation. According to this Pew Research report, half of survey respondents said children are better off if a mother stays at home and does not work. But this is not always the case. Mothers who are also the breadwinners sometimes do not have the privilege of choosing to work less than other women – to them it’s trying to balance raising a child and earning money for the household.

In another Pew Research report, it’s noted that because of the wage gap, it would take a woman an extra 44 days of work in order to catch up to what a man earns.  

The third claim is that wage gaps are not the case for younger, more educated women. The report states that although this did explain a part of the pay gap among older women, education and experience only counts for 15 percent of the “explainable” gap.

Furthermore, there is still the stigma surrounding women that to negotiate a pay raise is improper or greedy. In this Forbes article, it’s highlighted that women don’t ask as much as men because they are reluctant to speak up and instead settle for the first offer they receive because it’s about getting their foot through the door and “taking something for now.” It’s pointed out that women – and people in general – should take their unique value proposition into consideration when talking about raises.

“It’s heartbreaking in one sense, but I believe that you have to act in alignment with your beliefs,” Sadler said. “As much as I wanted to stay, I do know my worth, I do know the inner workings of the network, and I just wanted what was fair and reasonable.”

Catt Sadler’s decision to leave the E! Network over her pay wage gap shows how women are no longer sitting back. Women are starting to stand up for equality, and hopefully Sadler’s decision is just the tip of the iceberg for standing up for equal pay.

Featured Image by BPW Germany on Flickr

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