Meryl Streep was one of the first who came out about income inequality in Hollywood. Actresses, directors and every other profession in the industry followed soon after in support of Meryl’s statement. Jennifer Lawrence’s formal decry generated the most buzz rightly so, because if anything is going to change the current generation will carry the torch.
READ ON TO LEARN ABOUT SEAMSTRESSES/DRESSMAKERS/TAILORS
While I definitely sympathize with any marginalized group no matter the context, I know many don’t give these headlines a second thought unless it hits close to home. Even those with a working female spouse, mom, neighbor, or caregiver of a loved one are affected. Wage inequality among men and women caught my interest over 15 years ago while a student at the University of Texas at Austin when I learned women had to work until April the following year to earn what most men had earned the year prior.
Today I spent some time digging around the Census Bureau website and discovered the sewing industry is not exempt from this societal dilemma often perpetuated by subtle institutionalized discrimination. Initially I sought to learn of average pay for seamstresses or tailors. I thought I’d be extremely lucky to even find data related to anyone who sews.
A lone category fit my search efforts “Tailors, Dressmakers, and Sewers,” and then my curiosity peaked when I saw the data broken down by gender. Shock set in when I started charting the numbers in Excel and realized men earn almost double what women earn. According, to Census Bureau data women who sew earn not quite $8 an hour and men earn nearly $14 an hour.
My research stopped at Texas, but I am definitely going to explore further. Why does such a significant wage gap exist in the sewing industry, what are we going to do about it today, and how can we raise awareness so that people who sew can come out of the shadows to shine as the truly creative individuals that they were born to be?
Jennifer Lawrence admitted she often doesn’t ask for more than what she is offered. She acknowledges she’s more concerned with being agreeable. She proudly proclaimed she’s done with being likable for the sake of others. Jennifer Lawrence is right-to an extent. Women need to share in the responsibility for rectifying this problem, but the men and women who are doing the hiring need to do their part too. I’m sure Jennifer would agree.