The first order of business is to get through this coronavirus.
I’m doing any number of things more, to make up for doing lots of other things less — like going out and commuting and traveling. I’m exercising more, I’m drinking more, I’m eating more, I’m sleeping more, I’m cooking more. And of course, I’m worrying more. And I’m being grateful more — that I can cook more and sleep more, and that I have the privilege of working from home.
And I’m thinking of what the world looks like on the other side. And what really matters.
I hope that we come out the other side as a kinder nation. One that now recognizes who our “essential” workers are: the nurses, doctors, med techs, bodega workers, delivery people, farm laborers, warehouse workers, truck drivers, volunteers. And one that now recognizes the hard work of our teachers and caregivers.
I hope that also means we’ll be a society that no longer undervalues the contributions of its more vulnerable populations.
Ellevest was founded with the goal of getting more money into the hands of women.
And so can we just put a pin in one thing as we work through this?
Last week was Equal Pay Day, that bitter pill of a date that marks how many days into 2020 women have to work in order to earn what men earned in 2019. It means that women — on average — earn 82 cents to a man’s dollar. More for Asian American women and white women. Less for Black and brown women.
But it’s actually worse than that. Women earn 82 cents to a man’s dollar, but we have and keep just 32 cents to a man’s dollar. And this “gender wealth gap” is getting worse. Women have been losing ground.
The “gender wealth gap” is so much worse than the “gender pay gap” for a number of reasons. It’s because women spend less time in the workforce — often not because it’s our “choice,” but because we are more often caregivers. Because we bear children, in a country without a mandated paid parental leave. And because the economics of staying in the workforce — earning just that 82 cents to a man’s dollar — may not make financial sense for a family if one person has to step out to care for children or other family members.
I believe there will be an accounting on the other side of this.
We will take stock of the kind of society we have discovered that we are. We will begin to prioritize competence and preparedness in our leadership. And compassion. And when we get ready to vote in November, can we (as Abigail Adams famously said) “remember the ladies”? Can we remember the essential workers?
We say it all the time: Nothing bad happens when women have more money. A fairer — and kinder — society benefits everyone. Greater equality doesn’t diminish anyone; it raises us all.
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