Some Thoughts on Jennifer Lawrence’s Essay on Gender Pay Gap

some thougths on gender pay equality

Today, I want to take a quick break from all my beauty ramblings and talk about Jennifer Lawrence’s essay.

If you haven’t read the news yet, which is all over the internet now, Jennifer Lawrence wrote an essay to talk about the gender pay gap in the movie industry. I read the full essay yesterday, and have to say “Bravo! well said Jen, well said!”

As a career girl, gender equality is not an unfamiliar topic, and is something very close to my heart. Not that personally I’ve experienced any gender biased treatment in the workplace, quite the opposite, I actually think the tech industry is probably leading the way when it comes to gender equality. Yes, there are quite a few pronounced issues we need to address in the years to come, e.g. only a very small percentage of females made to the executive positions in the industry; male dominates the tech world, especially in the engineering field, and etc. But over the years, I do see tech companies take the extra steps to recognize the issue, and creating initiatives to make a difference. We probably need to thank Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean in, which has triggered a lot of healthy discussion and debate.

I cannot agree more with what Jennifer said in the essay, in particular:

I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early… I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. It’s just heard. Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, and Bradley Cooper all fought and succeeded in negotiating powerful deals for themselves. If anything, I’m sure they were commended for being fierce and tactical, while I was busy worrying about coming across as a brat and not getting my fair share.

Yes, the perceptions may not change overnight when women stand up for themselves, but sometimes, screw that, you got to say what you got to say, and do what you got to do. If you believe what you deserve, ask for it, stand for it, and prove it. It’s almost silly to wait for someone to offer you your fair share, I mean, why would anyone do that if you don’t even voice for yourself?

I know, it’s easier to be said than done. I remember when I first got a job offer, I was so terrified about negotiating my salary that my voice was shaky, my hands were sweating like I just came out of a steaming room and I even forgot to breath! I was worried that the recruiter will think I was arrogant, because I should be happy enough to receive a job offer from a great company out of college.

I did it anyway, and my salary got bumped up 10%, and I felt so good about it! That satisfaction, I tell you, no words can describe it! And it’s not even about the money itself, it was the fact that I fought for myself that made me feel good.

I grew up in an environment that my parents never treated me “like a girl”, they always encouraged me to go for what I want. So I don’t have the voice in my head that keeps telling me “don’t say it, girls shouldn’t say it this way”, or “don’t do it, you are a girl”. So if I had to go through such a roller coaster when negotiating salary, I cannot image how difficult it will be for women who grew up in a family or society that emphasizes the “girly way” for everything we do and say.

Well, at least now we know we are not alone, even for the top movie stars like Jennifer Lawrence goes through the same struggle. It’s a universal thing across all industries, and it doesn’t only apply to salary negotiations. If you believe you should be promoted, tell your manager about it; if you believe your name should be on that presentation deck you have worked day and night for, say it; if you believe you have the capability to take a high profile role, ask for it; if you believe you should be included in an important meeting, put your hands up for it. And the list goes on and on…

All I want to say is that it will take years to realize gender equality in our society, because the conscious and unconscious bias, which by the way, resides in both women and men’s head, takes time to clear up. But we need to start right now by asking for what we deserve, and stand for it, even fight for it.

The full essay is here, strongly recommend you to have a read.