“I gave up early”

I’m a junior in college with early signs and symptoms of severe Senioritis. I’m always looking for motivation, the light at the end of the tunnel. Especially now – the last few weeks of a semester is when I have been known to crash. We receive mountains of assignments all at once (it feels) and I panic. I’ve also been known to call my mom and/or dad in tears and blubber about my stress.

Neither of my parents went to college. Even so, they try their best to comfort my I-have-SO-much-homework-but-I-need-to-workout-and-run-errands-and-get-to-meetings-and-show-up-to-work-but-maybe-I-should-just-sit-here-and-cry breakdowns.

Mom and dad have always said, “go to school, study hard, and you’ll go far; we know you will.” But, will I? Or will I face challenges in the workplace that disregard my hard work and education?

Jennifer Lawrence, aka Katniss Everdeen, recently spoke out about the gender pay gap. If you’ve seen Jennifer Lawrence in the media, you’ll know she’s either talking about food or tripping down the carpet. But on a serious note, she portrays a genuine, down to earth, strong woman aside from her fame and fortune. Forbes magazine ranked her as the highest-paid actress of 2015, yet she doesn’t let that stop her from speaking out about the gender pay gap still occurring in our country.

Jennifer Lawrence

The Guardian posted an article about her activism. Lawrence said, “When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony… I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need.”

She went on to say that she knows she isn’t the only woman who has faced this issue. And, she’s right. Even today, in 2016, women face challenges in the workplace that men do not. This doesn’t just affect women, though. This relates to their families, partners, locations, coworkers, bosses, entire companies, even the government. It’s easy to see this is a widespread issue.

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Gender Pay Gap

To look at a situation like this, we can analyze through cultural theories. Cultural theorists consider biological factors, but focus more on the assumption that ideals are influenced by the surrounding culture.

One of the most important factors of cultural theories of gender, stated by Julia T. Wood, is the element of roles that men and women are expected play. In the workplace, historically and modernly, men are expected to hold a leadership role. On the other hand, women are typically classified into four stereotypical roles:

  • Sex object
    • Judged based on appearance
    • Example: A company who would hire or decline a candidate based on attractiveness or physical appearance could be viewing the candidate as a sex object.
  • Mother
    • Expected to bare emotional support to coworkers
    • Example: Women who have children, or express that they intend to have children, can be viewed as the mother stereotype and be perceived as less professional.
  • Child
    • Viewing a woman as less competent and/or mature
    • Example: “… cute but not to be taken seriously.” – Julia T. Wood
  • Iron maiden
    • The most unfeminine of the stereotypes, direct and tough
    • Example: A female politician who is viewed as powerful, but stern

So – Where do you fall, professionally? How are we going to break the barriers of workplace inequality?

“I gave up early,” is what Jennifer Lawrence said on her argument fighting the gender pay gap.

Don’t be a bystander. Don’t give up early.

I encourage you all to act on equality.