I need a snack thinking about that $0.21

When I am overly stressed, I make a bee line to the nearest corner store and grab a quarter bag of flamin’ hot cheetos. I’ve been doing this since I was appx. 8 years old. In my early entrepreneurship days, this snack choice could be triggered by a number of factors. As the resident candy lady I was sometimes annoyed with one of my customers who made me count out 100 pieces of green only sour patches for $2.00. Sometimes the penny candy hustle was just way too extra for the amount of effort it required. So I would take a break, walk to the store, and spend 12.5% of my earnings just to deal.

These days that $0.25 bag costs me $0.50 and raises an antenna about health concerns I blatantly ignore. Or it costs me over $1.00 cause I am not in an urban market and have to settle for the Munchies bag with pretzels and sun chips. But it’s usually cause I am doing a whole lot of extra for something that is not worth my time. Which brings me to the pay gap.

In 2015, female full-time workers made only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 21 percent. Women, on average, earn less than men in virtually every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio.

Are you reading this right now and feeling a little salty? Getting a craving for a little snack? Girl. Please. It is even worse for women of color.

$0.54 for Latina Women.

$0.58 for American Indian Women.

$0.63 for African American Women.

Among full-time workers in 2015, Hispanic and Latina, African American, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian and other native women had lower median annual earnings compared with non-Hispanic white and Asian American women. But within racial/ethnic groups, African American, Hispanic, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian women experienced a smaller gender pay gap compared with men in the same group than did non-Hispanic white and Asian American women (Figure 3).

As a black woman, that basically means for every hour I work, I lose $0.37 towards that bag of chips I sometimes crave deep in my soul. Which means I am essentially paying more just to go to work. Let’s not get started on what I spend on work clothing and curly hair maintenance.

So ya’ll know I’m mad right? I know this statistic is not new, but it’s just now hitting me how much money I am losing out on. When I entered into the labor force, during a recession, I was just so happy to get a job that my negotiation attempt was cute at best. I went from a 4 figure income funded by my refund check, Amazon bookstore side hustle, and summer research apprenticeship to making a healthy 5 figures. Not only was I not paying attention to the pay gap, I felt like my company saved my life. I had survivor’s remorse for at least 3 years and you could not tell me I was the luckiest girl in the world.

I worked hard. I traveled the world. I delivered value to clients. Built good relationships with non-profits through out corporate citizenship efforts. Lived a wonderful life of single girldom. Volunteered abroad and did it again. Met great people. I had stressful flamin’ hot days, but I took it in stride cause I was eating out hotel lounges on the square plates.

Five years and 30 pounds later, I looked up and around. Most of my peers with less consulting experience make more. My little brother, a junior in college who was put on to the power of the internship, was just offered an entry level job at the same company getting paid about $10,000 less than I am with a $9,000 bonus. After 5 years, I might be making $1,000 more than him next year. More importantly, this is not just my story. I have conversations about this with the queens in my life. All. The. Time.

Does it start with the performance management process? Do I stand up for myself enough?

I’ve actually been in the top quartile of performance at my company almost every year I’ve worked there with the exception of when I spent 8 months of the year in Jamaica on leave of absence. But, I had professional coaching through the process. I was lucky enough to learn about the importance of self-promotion and advocacy very early. But I still have to be reminded.

Did I stay at the same company for too long?


What about my resume? My LinkedIn profile?

Jessica L. Williams of Tech Biz Gurl touches on this in her Up Your LinkedIn Game recap.

My confidence in the workplace?

Varies. I mean I’m not in the boys club, but I have no problem doing what I have to do. But there are situations where I know I should have fought harder or stood taller. After reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, I at least take a seat at the table and am not afraid to voice my opinion.

“It’s amazing how what you do not know impacts what you settle for,” Secretary Pritzker .

Is it my natural hair?

Maybe. And yes, I do consider it as a factor. The traveling hair routine can get rough.

Is it relationships?

For sure.

What if I start my own company?

Yes, but…

Women start businesses with half the capital of men and use more capital from personal savings and credit card debt. Women receive about 3% of venture capital funding. For those interested in starting more and better businesses, the pay gap is a deterrent for entrepreneurs as well (not to mention an issue for our economy as a whole). Women entrepreneurs pay themselves less than their male counterparts. Systemic views on what it is like to be paid as a woman reach beyond what employers choose to pay her, and into the cognitive views society has placed on women for what she perceives as her full value.

Kim Lewis of Curl Mix openly shared a story about how a Latina YouTube influencer she hired to promote her product on YouTube originally quoted her for 10% of the going rate of the industry. Some people don’t even know the market to ask for the right price.

I have all the questions, but not yet there with the answers. Just writing this piece in itself makes me want some chips I can’t afford. As part of #chicagoideasweek, www.queensbrunch.com is hosting a lab discussing ‘How to Close the Gap’ with some boss women of color from all walks of life. Maybe they can shed some light and give pointers.

At this session, a win would be if the speakers get real about their journeys and solutions. I am hoping to hear Tanisha Parrish, executive, coach, and founder of Life Under Innovation, share her story of her failure resume. How can we take our “gap” mindset defeat, bottle it, and move forward? What was the starting point that led Myleik Teele to a Proctor & Gamble partnership with CurlBox? I’d like to know how non-profits stay competitive and financially afloat after a decade from Monica Haslip and Sandee Kastrul. Or hear Maci Peterson‘s about the journey during seed round investing.

It’s only 2 hours. And for me personally, this conversation is just a start. I will close with a quote by Rihanna delivered by Chris-tia Donaldson of TGIN at the Women in Business Summit last month.

Queens Brunch for Women | January 28th at 1 pm | Chef Sara’s Cafe

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