Working women across all industries have one thing in common: most of the time we aren't getting paid the same as our male counterparts.
This past year alone we've seen more women, particularly in Hollywood, speak out against pay equality. But when is all of this talk going to actually turn into bigger paydays?
From Hollywood to corporate America and everywhere else in between, men are getting rich utilizing the gifts and talents of women without compensating them fairly. Some would say that's the nature of business, but actress Nia Long spoke out about the issue recently when she appeared at an event for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
The 47-year-old actress has been in the game as long as most of can remember (27 years and counting), but her tenure hasn't come without the same disadvantages many women, and particularly women of color, face when it comes to getting our just due. She told the Associated Press:
"I have watched a lot of men get rich off of the films that I've done and I was being paid peanuts."
From Boyz n tha Hood, Love Jones, The Best Man and Friday, many of us have grown up watching Long for as long as we can remember, no pun intended. She is perhaps the most name-dropped woman in all of hip-hop, yet she still has to ask for her deserved market rate.
While her work is a glowing example of what representation can look like in Hollywood, this inclusion doesn't always include fair compensation. The actress says that when she has spoken out about this disparity, she was labeled "difficult", despite the fact that she has more than earned her place as one of Hollywood's most recognizable Black actresses. She says:
"When I requested or wanted more, I was considered difficult, outspoken, entitled, and all of the things that should not be used to describe a woman who has earned her space, her place and delivers. And that just doesn't apply to me, that's for everyone."
These conversations are starting to feel like broken records. Why aren't men considered "difficult" or "entitled" when they speak up for themselves when it's time to cut the check? At this point, the wage gap seems to be as American as apple pie.
In 2018, Black women still only earn roughly 40% less than their white male counterparts for the same exact jobs. Nia said:
"I think we are talking about it. Women are more inclined to have those in-the-kitchen conversations with one another where we can just talk freely about all the things that we've been shamed [for]."
The actress goes on to say that pay inequality is just another topic on the long list of things women are not supposed to talk about. We are supposed to grin and bear it all; we're expected to suffer in silence. But if we continue to do this, how can we expect anything to change?
"We're not supposed to talk about mental health. We're not supposed to talk about even our physical health. We're supposed to present ourselves in this way of perfection, but the reality is we're human and we raise children. We make children. We do all of the things in the home and go to work. So, the pendulum has to swing the other way at some point."
The more we talk about these inequalities, the more likely things will have to change. And while we have made considerable strides overall, like Gabrielle Union said in a recent Instagram post dedicated to her friend Nia Long, we have so much further to go.
So, speak up when it's your time, ladies. We are paving the pay equality way for our daughters and future generations of women!
Featured image by Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com