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Why the Secret Wage Gap Commercial Sucks for Women

Secret released a new deodorant commercial depicting a young woman in a bathroom practicing a conversation with her boss regarding pay. She is upset because her male colleague makes more than her, without working as hard or as long at the firm.

Here is the ad:

 

Here is why it sucks:

Instead of fueling the popular “we fight gender inequality” fire, Secret could make a positive impact by showing a woman practicing her speech, learning how to negotiate, and walking confidently into her boss’s office prepared to show why she should make more money. Instead they show a nervous, messy woman yammering in the bathroom mirror. Talk about stereotypes.

This commercial shows everything wrong with the “wage gap” conversation:

1. THERE IS NO WAGE GAP: Women and men are paid  equally for the same jobs. A male teacher and a female teacher, a male nurse and a female nurse, etc. – they are making the same. If you combine all male salaries in the US, and then combine all female salaries in the US, you will find that on average men are making more. On average, men are also going into higher paying fields, working more hours, and spending less time at home than women. Women are taking lower paying jobs due to the flexibility they afford. Men are taking higher paying jobs but spending less time at home.

If you want to make more as a woman (or a man), pick a high paying career. Become a lawyer, a doctor, a policewoman, a corporate accountant… work 60, 70+ hours a week. But on average, women aren’t doing this, so on average men are making more. But, equal pay for equal jobs does exist… let’s stop acting like it doesn’t! Instead, let’s empower woman to pursue higher paying careers.

Listen to this Freakonomics podcast to learn more: The True Story of the Gender Pay Gap 

2. Learn to negotiate: It’s not the company’s job to tell you, “Hey you’re asking for $5,000 less than Joe, so you should ask for more to make things fair.” Companies have a range they are willing to pay for a particular job, and while your background can place you high or low on that range, your negotiating skills are vital as well.

Studies have continuously proven that women do not negotiate well. So Todd may have asked for more, and got it, where as Ms. Blazer here did not negotiate a larger salary. As such, Ms. Blazer just learned a lesson and will ask for more during her next raise/promotion/interview.

3. The bathroom and the hair: Really, Ms. Blazer should have practiced this speech at home. The fact that she is in her employer’s bathroom makes me think she just learned Todd’s salary and is reacting immediately on emotion. Don’t do this. If you need to discuss something with your boss, take your time to prepare.

Secondly, her hair is a mess. Just brush your hair before asking for a raise. Also, schedule a meeting with your boss, don’t just ask him if he has a second. This conversation warrants more time and thought than a second between meetings.

4. Todd doesn’t matter at all: Our salaries are not dependent on what our colleagues make. If you go to your boss and say, “I heard Sally is making $1,000 more than me”, your boss isn’t going to fall over and apologize.

If you want to make more, and you believe you should be making more than someone else, you need to focus on what YOU bring to the table. Phrase it as, “I do this, that, and the other, I have brought X amount of dollars/business/website hits to this company, and based on my performance I believe I should make $1,000 more…” or whatever.

Saying, “Todd has been here less time than me and I don’t think he works as hard, so I deserve more than him” is not a valid reason for a raise. Firstly, you don’t know Todd’s background or why your boss thinks he deserves what he deserves, and secondly you sound like a kid. “She has more crayons than me, I deserve more.” Why, for existing? Make a valid case explaining why you deserve to make a certain amount, and don’t simply piggy back on what your colleagues are making. That ain’t how it works, kids.

5. Stop making women out to be victims: In the end, I am tired of these campaigns acting like women are being victimized each pay day. Learn to negotiate, join high paying careers, and work really hard. The pay is there, but you need to work for it, just like men! You aren’t going to make $70,000 as a teacher in Oklahoma. You will make more than that as a broker. Pick the life you want and go for it – but you’re not a victim because of the choices you make.

6. Real sexism does exist: There are definitely shitty employers who pay women less because they see them as less. By inflating the wage gap numbers – like Obama saying women are paid 77 cents for every dollar – we are diluting the true issue that some do face. If everyone cries wolf, the real victims will be hard to hear.

 

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Things I Know at 28

Today is my 28th birthday, and I’m not feeling entirely positive about it. My mind is flooded with questions like, “Am I too old for my room to be this covered in crap?” and “Am I supposed to know how to make lasagna from scratch?”. I gauge my general life direction against where I think the world expects me to be. It’s stupid, and all of this stress and self-centered contemplation really puts a damper on my attempt to age gracefully. So to keep from having an “older-than-quarter-but-less-than-mid-life” crisis, here are the things that I do know for certain at 28 (Spoiler: This list is not impressive).

Things I Definitely Know at 28

  1. Female Friends Are the MOST Important: If I could marry my girlfriends and have affairs with men on the side, I would. They get me more than anyone. When I’m upset, they ask the questions that get to the root of my feelings. If I’m being irrational, hypocritical, or just fucking crazy, they will tell me. And if I get mad at them for calling me crazy, they forgive me. Being a woman is a very unique experience, and your girlfriends help you embrace your journey. Also, there is nothing as therapeutic as a girl’s night. Whether we’re white girl dancing our way through Beyoncé’s discography or crying into a pizza, I always walk away from hanging with my ladies feeling like I just saw the friendliest, drunkest psychiatrist on the block. They are an intricate part of a happy life, and you should keep them.
  2. I Should Stop Looking At the Neighbors: If you’re 28 and living at home because you want to save money and you like your mom a lot, that’s fine. Even if you have a friend who left home at 24, or that annoying bitch who somehow manages to travel the world on absolutely no income at all – how does she afford this and where the hell is Budapest! It doesn’t matter. You can’t compare yourself to everyone else and it’s incredibly unhealthy to try! I’ve learned it’s important to stay on your own track, and forget everyone else because they’re still figuring it out too.
  3. 28 Is Not Too Old: My fellow 28-ers are not too old for the following things:
    1. Alcohol or getting drunk on the weekends.
    2. Casual dating.
    3. To start working out.
    4. To start new hobbies.
    5. MTV (Girl Code, what up?).
    6. A messy bedroom.
    7. Needing your mom.
    8. Being single.
    9. Living paycheck to paycheck.
    10. Going back to school.
    11. Changing careers.
    12. Crying when your boyfriend gets mad at you.
    13. H&M.
  4. 28 is Too Old: My fellow 28-ers are too old for the following things:
    1. Losing control of yourself every time you drink.
    2. Staying in unhappy relationships.
    3. Staying at a dead-end job because it’s easy.
    4. Doing anything because it’s easier than doing what you want to do.
    5. Complete apathy.
    6. Not knowing how to say you’re sorry.
    7. Thinking your age makes you cute (unless you’re talking to your grandparents).
    8. Not knowing how to get along with your siblings.
    9. Not appreciating your parents.
    10. Forever 21.
  5. Well All Need to Get Off the Phone: The internet and smart phones and quick accessibility to everything are killing our sociability. Put your phone down during dinner, or when talking to people. Make eye contact and maintain in-person contact. Otherwise, we’re all going to have weird, robot children.
  6. This is Only the Beginning: A (mostly) clean and cute apartment, a sister-best-friend, a best-friend-boyfriend, a decent job with great flexibility, good friends, great family… everything is fine! And it’s only the beginning of it all. So I’m enjoying it. Now give me cake!
  7. And lastly, when all else fails, Buzzfeed gets it.
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Dieting, Of Course

I’m sweating profusely right now from my third consecutive cup of coffee, watching Sister Wives: Secrets Revealed, and trying to figure out what I’m going to do tonight that doesn’t consist of eating or drinking. What do people do on a Friday night when they’re trying to lose weight?

After Hurricane Sandy, my gym closed for two weeks and I took that as a sign to stop working out for two months. Then came Thanksgiving, a trip to Vegas, Christmas and 2 1/2 weeks away from work, and poof!- here I am, squeezing into every pair of jeans I own. Vanity aside, I feel out of shape, so I finally drug myself back to the gym, started counting calories, and became the cliché post-New Year’s woman. That’s fine with me, I’ve already lost a pound, but nothing reveals your personal flaws as sharply as attempting change. Here’s what I’ve learned in the last four days:

#1: I want variety!

1,300 calories a day isn’t an easy transition, and my options are limited, but I’ll never be able to live solely on salad and chicken. I don’t understand women who have these very strict diets and don’t allow themselves pasta, or taco night, or a margarita once in a while. A life without Alfredo sauce is not worth living.

#2: I need a food diary!

The only way to keep myself from overeating is to write down everything I put in my mouth. I have a sophisticated spreadsheet and a food blog. It’s sick, and I’m ashamed at my lack of personal accountability, but if I don’t visually see the calories adding up, I’ll just keep eating crackers and Gouda until my couch collapses from under me.

#3: I’m an addict!

I don’t smoke and I’m not drinking, and I’m not watching 5 Netflix documentaries in a row either. To fill this void I’m drinking coffee, and obsessing over work out plans and pounding water. Maybe my new habits seem healthier, but they are just as unhealthy if I don’t control them. I obsess over things (you should see me on a Reddit binge) and I need to curb it. A little goes a long way, and I’m only just realizing this.

#4: I’m getting old!

After a year of wearing 4-inch heels to work every day, my feet hurt and my knee is stiff, which isn’t ideal for a wannabe runner. I need to wear much lower heels to work and start taking better care of myself before arthritis and bunions cripple me.

Now please excuse me while I eat something. I think my overly critical self-realizations are a sign of starvation induced insecurity.