With the SCOTUS decision striking down Roe v. Wade just in our rearview mirror and what looks to be a bumpy road ahead of us, it’s more important than ever to examine how women are treated not just socially but also economically as we know the two are so closely intertwined.
Removing women’s reproductive rights (as many states have already moved to do) is just one way systems in the U.S. disadvantage women economically. The cost of motherhood – childcare, healthcare, baby food, diapers, etc. – plus the time it takes to raise an infant and child can cut into a woman’s ability to invest in herself, her career and education.
But while the Roe decision may be recent, disenfranchising women economically in the United States is not. Between the baby formula shortage, the lack of paid family leave, no pay parity accountability, the “pink” tax and more – it’s expensive to be a woman, and it’s baked into economic systems.
“The economy was literally designed to benefit the cis white men that built it. When this country was founded, women were the property of their husbands, unable to have any kind of financial freedom,” says Jordan Close, Board Chair of Women Have Options-Ohio (WHO/O), Ohio’s only statewide abortion fund and Executive Fellow with Ohio Women’s Alliance. “Women weren’t even able to have bank accounts in their own names until the 60’s.” Women are frequently responsible for their household finances (94% of women say they share responsibility for their household finances, and more than half say they are primarily responsible, according to a recent HerMoney + Alliance for Lifetime Income Study) yet we earn just 82 cents on the dollar compared to men, and that’s the average woman. For women of color, the gap is much greater. Additionally, the majority of work that women do for their families and households, even in the office, are often not seen as labor. “But things like cleaning up after others, caring for children, managing family schedules, managing the emotions of others etc., is project management and should be recognized as such,” Close explains.
But many of the ways gender inequity manifests in the U.S. economy can be a lot more subtle. Katica Roy, gender economist and CEO of Pipeline Equity – a SaaS company working to eradicate gender inequity and bias, gave us a rundown on four very specific, and sneaky, ways our current economy disadvantages women.