TIME women

The Grass Ceiling: Women’s Changing Role in Weed Culture

Eliana Dockterman is a culture writer for TIME in New York City.

Marijuana's stereotypes and gender issues evolve

For years, the world of cannabis has been associated with bros. From The Big Lebowski to Seth Rogen movies, popular culture has depicted the common weed smoker as a lazy dude. While all pot smokers have been caricatured, the female smoker has been particularly marginalized and infantilized—when she shows up in movies and TV at all. And, overwhelmingly, the marijuana industry has taken a similarly sexist approach to try to appeal to men: trade shows abound with so-called “booth babes” hocking wares, and trade magazines like High Times feature women in bikinis with strategically placed marijuana leaves smoking large, phallic bongs.

“One of the problems marijuana culture has had is sexism that is built into the industry —everything from product labeling to product advertising,” says Bruce Barcott, author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America (recently out from Time Books).

But as the legalization movement has begun to pick up steam, women are finally coming out of the cannabis closet. In just this last year, Sarah Silverman has shown off her pot stash on the Emmys red carpet, the women stars of Broad City were regularly shown smoking weed and an all-female dealer team featured in an episode of the online show just picked up by HBO about a New York dealer called High Maintenance.

As the pop culture versions of female smokers have expanded, women have proved to be serious and quantifiable marijuana users. The marijuana industry is quickly realizing it needs women’s support to succeed in legalizing the product building a viable business. They are even changing their strategies to attract female consumers.

“In the not-so-distant future, women are going to become the dominant purchasers of cannabis products,” says Jane West, who co-founded a networking and trade association for women in the industry called Women Grow just last summer. She believes women will fuel the market by buying wellness products to replace prescription anti-anxiety medications, anti-depressants and sleep aids.

But to tap that market, the industry will have to convince women to feel comfortable picking up a habit that has stereotyped all users as deviant and lazy.

The Cannabis Closet

“Women are more often than not the primary caregiver or parent, and even for a woman who doesn’t have kids yet there is a stigma that you would be encouraging your children to use drugs, things like that,” says Cheri Sicard, author of Mary Jane: The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women.

In popular culture, the stereotype of a stoner endures, and he’s nearly always been a he: Cheech and Chong, Bill and Ted, Dazed and Confused. Comedies like Knocked Up, Pineapple Express and This Is the End double down on the stereotype (often embodied by Seth Rogen) by questioning how stoners will deal with disasters like murderous drug dealers, the apocalypse or fatherhood.

Examples of women casually smoking in films — Annie Hall, Nine to Five — have been the exception rather than the rule. They have quickly discovered that responsibility and weed don’t mix: Lindsay on Freaks and Geeks learns she can’t indulge like her male friends can because she has responsibilities as a babysitter; Nancy loses her perfect suburban life after she starts dealing on Weeds; even the girls on That ’70s Show knew to keep their smoking habits to the basement, unlike their male counterparts.

Whether cultural depictions of weed affected women’s choices, or these examples were simply mimicking real life, it’s a fact that many more men than women use marijuana. Almost twice as many men as women (9.6% vs. 5%) consistently consume weed, according to a 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. And while 47% of American men have tried marijuana at least once, only 30% of American women have done the same, according to a 2013 Gallup poll.

But now that medical marijuana is legal in four states and D.C. and decriminalized in an additional 14 states, the cultural gap may be closing. Last year, Comedy Central successfully paired Broad City, which follows two unabashed female weed smokers’ shenanigans in New York City, with its more stereotypical stoner show, Workaholics about three slacker dudes struggling in the workplace. High Maintenance, the Vimeo-turned-HBO show about a weed dealer, also pushed the conversation by quietly proposing that first-time smokers, casual tokers and full-fledged potheads come in all types. Even the last Seth Rogen summer blockbuster, Neighbors, featured a female character (Rose Byrne) just as reluctant to put down the bong and pick up the baby toys as Rogen.

In real life, stars like Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus have spoken openly about their pot use. A group that calls themselves the “marijuana moms” in L.A. are working to reverse the stereotype that smoking weed automatically makes for bad parenting. Even Martha Stewart half-joked she knows how to roll a perfect joint.

“I think women have always used it, but now thanks to pop culture, they’re just more comfortable actually talking about it,” says Sicard. “Now you’re seeing accomplished women — both on television and in real life — using it like it’s a glass of wine. It doesn’t make them a failure. It doesn’t make them a bad parent. Things like that will educate people.”

Ladies Legalize

Women openly discussing marijuana has had a major impact on the legalization movement. According to recent research, women have been the deciding vote in most states where marijuana has become legal.

Data collected by the Global Drug Policy Observatory shows that female support of the 2012 amendment to legalize marijuana in Colorado went up seven percentage points in the last month before the vote, while support from men decreased in that same time frame. Female support of Washington’s marijuana ballot shot up from 48% to 53% in the last few days before the vote.

“Society seems to take notice more when women say it’s okay,” says Sicard. “So I think marijuana use in general is gaining more acceptance because of powerful women driving the movement.”

A Budding Business

Traditionally, marijuana has been packaged for men — think beautiful babes adorning little baggies — but as more states legalize marijuana, savvy business owners are beginning to recognize that they can gear new products to women.

“Some of the best retail shops are those that are very aware they both have male and female customers, and changed that culture over just over the last year or two,” says Barcott. As he researched his book, Barcott ran across several dispensary runners in Denver who refused to stock any product that had skin on the label, for fear that it would push away female customers.

The change can be spotted in one of the first public ads for marijuana in Seattle. Instead of advertising in what Barcott calls “the old stoner way,” the ad for Dama Oil showed a healthy couple hiking together. “It could have been an R.E.I. ad,” he says, referring to the outdoor gear company. “That’s a huge difference from the way people advertised just a few years ago.”

Dama Oil is just one of the many companies aiming to sell weed to women as a healthy lifestyle choice. “Many women use marijuana differently than men,” says West. “They’re not using it to get high, but for its therapeutic effects. They use it for relaxation, pain management and think of it more as a wellness addition.”

“Previously, inhaling combustible cannabis was really the only way you could consume marijuana, but now the wide variety of products out there — from sublingual strips to pomegranate sparkling beverages to skin creams to vaporizing pens that really minimize any negative health benefits — more and more women are going to start trying it when there’s more product options,” she adds. It’s just about marketing — West uses the term “flower” instead of “leaf” to refer to the plant.

West estimates that only about 10% of industry workers are women, with those numbers dropping drastically at higher-level positions. After months of attending industry events at bars where she felt outnumbered, she decided to create a network for women.

“We want women to be designing those products, creating those companies, building the facilities and running the grows that all of the flowers are coming from,” she says. “For women, by women.”

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME women

The Facts on Women in Science Show Why We Don’t Need the Diversity Bureaucracy

Hiring bias runs in favor of women, not against them

A new study finds that females are twice as likely to be hired as tenure-track faculty in the sciences as males. This finding undermines the claim that faculty hiring is biased against females. It also shows that the ever-growing bureaucracy to support diversity on college campuses is a waste of resources.

Researchers at the Cornell Institute for Women in Science asked faculty in biology, engineering, economics, and psychology from 371 American colleges and universities to evaluate three hypothetical applicants to their departments. The job-search packages for the applicants included a search committee’s report, quotes from letters of recommendation, and an overall numerical score. The academic qualifications of two of those hypothetical candidates, a male and a female, were equal. A third male candidate was slightly inferior to the other two.

The nearly 900 faculty members, half male, half female, from all four fields preferred female applicants over identically qualified males by two to one. Only male economics professors showed no gender preference; female economics professors chose the female candidate by a ratio of two to one. The marital and family status of the candidates had no consistent or significant effect on their likelihood of being selected, and when it did, it did so in a way that contradicts the usual gender bias narrative. Male evaluators preferred mothers who had taken a year of maternity leave over mothers who had not, whereas female evaluators preferred mothers who had taken no maternity leave.

To make sure that the faculty subjects were not guessing the nature of the experiment and choosing female applicants to please the researchers, some faculty were asked to evaluate just a single candidate. Those professors evaluated the solo candidate more favorably if the name attached to the resume was female.

The result of this study, authored by Cornell psychologists Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci, and published April 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is hardly surprising. Since the 1980s, females have been interviewed and hired at a higher rate than their representation in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) applicant pool would predict, as documented by the National Research Council and other investigators. Pressure from campus administrators to hire a female candidate over a more qualified male peer is relentless and overwhelming. If a STEM faculty resists that pressure and hires the most qualified candidate regardless of his gender, the administrators may force the obstreperous department to hire an additional woman anyway.

Yet the myth of a sexist science hiring process has persisted, even though it is contradicted every day by the observable characteristics of faculty searches. And that myth has given rise to a stupendously expensive campus bureaucracy tasked with increasing diversity and combating alleged faculty bias. Last month, the University of California at Los Angeles hired its first vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion at the jaw-dropping salary of $354,900 — enough to cover the tuition of nearly 30 underprivileged students a year. That vice chancellor will be expected to ride herd on the faculty and make sure that it hires according to gender (and race). The Berkeley, San Francisco, and San Diego campuses of the University of California have long had their own vice chancellors for equity, diversity, and inclusion at salaries ranging from a “mere” quarter million to nearly three hundred thousand dollars a year. Each such vice chancellor presides over a princely realm of bureaucrats, all sucking up vast amounts of taxpayer and student tuition dollars.

Private universities are just as committed to the myth of faculty bias. Harvard created the position of senior vice provost for diversity and faculty development in 2005. That senior vice provost reviews faculty appointments to ensure that they contribute to “diversity in faculty ranks across the University” — in other words, that new hires be selected on the basis of gender and race, not their academic accomplishments.

The university should be the one place where reason and evidence rule. For years it has been apparent that hiring bias runs in favor of women, not against them. It’s time to shut down the costly diversity bureaucracy and allow faculty to hire on merit alone.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME United Kingdom

Chess Master Says Men Naturally Better Players Than Women

British former World Chess Championhip finalist Nigel Short looks at a chess board in his home in Athens November 4, 2005.
Yannis Behrakis—Reuters British former World Chess Championhip finalist Nigel Short looks at a chess board in his home in Athens November 4, 2005.

"Rather than fretting about inequality, perhaps we should just gracefully accept it as a fact”

One of Britain’s best chess players has sparked controversy after he said that women were inherently not as good as men at chess and suggested that women were worse drivers.

Nigel Short, who lost to Garry Kasparov in the 1993 world championship, told New In Chess magazine that we should “gracefully accept it as a fact” that women possess different skills than men, the Telegraph reports.

“I don’t have the slightest problem in acknowledging that my wife possesses a much higher degree of emotional intelligence than I do,” he said. “Likewise, she doesn’t feel embarrassed in asking me to maneuver the car out of our narrow garage. One is not better than the other, we just have different skills.”

“It would be wonderful to see more girls playing chess, and at a higher level, but rather than fretting about inequality, perhaps we should just gracefully accept it as a fact.”

The comments from the sometimes provocative player drew a swift response from the chess community.

Amanda Ross, the head of the Causal Chess club in London, told the Telegraph that his statements were “incredibly damaging when someone so respected basically endorses sexism.” Russ also observed that Short lost to Judit Polgar, the former women’s world champion.

[Telegraph]

TIME

Girls Who Escaped ISIS Describe Systematic Rape

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Bilgin Sasmaz—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivers a speech during a press conference at UN headquarters in New York on April 9, 2015.

Girls are forced into marriage and sold as gifts, aid group says

As they destroy antiquities and capture cities, ISIS fighters have also been engaged in a systematic campaign of rape and sexual violence against Yezidi women and girls in Iraq and Syria, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Wednesday.

According to the report, the widespread rape of girls and women from the Yezidi Christian minority group—is part of a organized system of abuse that includes slavery, forced marriage, and giving girls as “gifts” to different men. According to a recent U.N. report, about 3,000 people are currently in ISIS captivity, many of them Yezidi women. Last year, ISIS published an article that lays out its defense of sex slavery on religious grounds, despite the fact that sex slavery is condemned by the international community. “The confluence of crises wrought by violent extremism has revealed a shocking trend of sexual violence employed as a tactic of terror by radical groups,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said earlier this week.

One 20-year-old Yezidi woman told Human Rights Watch that ISIS held her and about 60 other women in a wedding hall in Syria, to be raped at will. They were told to “forget about your relatives, from now on you will marry us, bear our children, God will convert you to Islam and you will pray.” Here’s how she described the scene:

From 9:30 in the morning, men would come to buy girls to rape them. I saw in front of my eyes ISIS soldiers pulling hair, beating girls, and slamming the heads of anyone who resisted. They were like animals…. Once they took the girls out, they would rape them and bring them back to exchange for new girls. The girls’ ages ranged from 8 to 30 years… only 20 girls remained in the end.

As horrific as these stories are, they’re not quite new. Human Rights Watch published a similar report detailing ISIS’s forced marriages and conversions of Yezidi people last year, which focused less on specifically sexual abuse and more on widespread devastation of Yezidi communities. Still, international outrage has done little to stop the violence. “People feel quite powerless in the face of a group like ISIS,” says Liesl Gerntholtz, Human Rights Watch Executive Director for Women’s Rights. “Traditional tactics like naming and shaming just don’t work for them.”

ISIS is not the only Islamist militant group to use sexual violation as a tool of terrorism. This week marks the one-year anniversary of Boko Haram’s kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls from a school in northeast Nigeria. Based on how Boko Haram has treated other female captives, many fear that the schoolgirls have been forced into marriage or sold into sex slavery. Shortly after the kidnapping, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau boasted that he had taken the girls and planned to “sell them on the market.”

More: Boko Haram Has Fled But No One Know the Fate of the Chibok Girls

But despite the atrocities, there is a glimmer of hope in the latest report on ISIS and the Yezidi women. Yezidi religious leaders have issued statements welcoming abused Yezidi girls back into the community after they escape from their captors, a move that may ease the widespread social stigma against girls who have been victims of sexual assault. “That is unusual, and for me personally, that was a heartwarming part,” says Gerntholtz. “They need to be accepted back, they need to be supported. This was very important and very influential to make sure there were no honor killings or honor-related violence.”

MONEY wage gap

The 25 Careers in Which Women Are Most Underpaid

equal pay day wage gap women
Michael Hanson—Aurora Photos Female farmers, on average, earn just 60% of what their male counterparts do.

Females in financial services suffer some of the biggest pay gaps—but farmers don't have it great either.

On this Equal Pay Day, let’s take a moment to acknowledge where the greatest strides have yet to be made.

While gals make 78¢ to the dollar that guys do on average, the differential in some professions is much greater. Female securities and financial services sales agents, for example, are the most underpaid professionals compared with their male peers, getting a mere 55¢ per $1 of their counterparts’ compensation.

The Census bureau tracks earnings by gender for more than 500 occupational categories; the table below shows 25 fields where, based on 2013 data, the difference in what she makes and what he makes is the biggest.

(You can discover what each of these fields entails by typing in the category listed at O*Net Online, and find your own field’s pay differential via this Census table.)

Nearly half the jobs on this list are in financial fields. It’s also worth noting that 17 out of 25 are majority male in makeup, compared with half of the fields where the pay gap for women is the smallest.

Need a pick-me-up after this list? Check out The 25 Careers with the Smallest Wage Gaps for Women. And read up on how to reduce the pay gap for yourself, no matter where your own field falls.

Occupational Category % Women in Field Median Earnings, Men Median Earnings, Women % Women’s Earnings to Men’s % Margin of Error
1. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents 30% $93,795 $51,284 54.7 5.7
2. Financial specialists, all other 55% $81,859 $48,869 59.7 7.5
3. Morticians, undertakers, and funeral dirs. 20% $51,129 $31,023 60.7 10.5
4. Farmers, ranchers,agricultural mgrs. 11% $41,691 $25,310 60.7 5.0
5. Personal financial advisors 31% $98,126 $60,359 61.5 5.5
6. Financial clerks, all other 61% $67,732 $42,122 62.2 5.8
7. Financial analysts 32% $100,081 $63,424 63.4 7.9
8. Financial managers 54% $90,278 $57,406 63.6 2.0
9. Supervisors housekeeping/janitorial 33% $41,180 $26,860 65.2 2.4
10. Production, planning, and expediting clerks 57% $56,437 $37,246 66.0 1.6
11. Credit counselors and loan officers 54% $69,726 $46,394 66.5 4.2
12. Insurance sales agents 45% $61,639 $41,250 66.9 1.4
13. Photographic process and processing machine workers 45% $31,888 $21,348 66.9 14.0
14. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers 30% $36,494 $24,657 67.6 17.5
15. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers 4% $40,865 $27,657 67.7 3.8
16. Dentists 24% $151,071 $102,460 67.8 9.3
17. Tax preparers 52% $70,641 $47,997 67.9 7.1
18. Artists and related workers 36% $54,669 $37,261 68.2 9.0
19. Photographers 40% $44,513 $30,455 68.4 7.0
20. Welders, solderers, and brazers 5% $39,281 $26,893 68.5 3.6
21. Tax examiners, collectors, and agents 65% $66,754 $45,704 68.5 9.5
22. Economists 29% $120,076 $82,427 68.6 10.1
23. Credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks 73% $50,853 $35,037 68.9 10.9
24. Physicians and surgeons 33% $202,533 $140,036 69.1 4.0
25. Cutting workers 20% $31,113 $21,516 69.2 3.5

More from Money.com on equal pay:

The 25 Careers with the Smallest Wage Gaps for Women

5 Ways Women Can Close the Pay Gap for Themselves

The Single Best Thing Women Can Do to Help Themselves in Salary Negotiations

TIME politics

How Hillary Can Win Black Women Voters

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in Washington on March 23, 2015.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in Washington on March 23, 2015.

Women of color are ready to make noise at the polls

One thing 2008 and 2012 taught us: Black women are the voting bloc to watch. According to the Center for American Progress, “In 2012, Black women voted at a higher rate than any other group—across gender, race, and ethnicity—and, along with other women of color, played a key role in President Obama’s reelection. The following year, turnout by women of color in an off-year helped provide Terry McAuliffe (D) the margin of victory in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election. Notably, in both of their respective elections, President Obama and Gov. McAuliffe lost a lion’s share of White women voters, but overwhelmingly captured the votes of women of color.” It’s true that Black women are becoming much more involved with the political process, flexing their muscles by engaging in the issues and making their voices heard. But are these voters a guarantee for Hillary Clinton?

“I think Black women are ready for Hillary,” Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams tells Essence. “She represents not only the first woman president, but a continuation of policies that have been geared towards lifting women, communities of color, the poor—those demographics that have too often been left behind by Republican policies. I think her candidacy reflects the needs of Black women, in that she is going to talk about the issues that will help better their lives.”

Black women voters present a unique opportunity for Hillary, because, according to CAP, “[a]s their numbers increase and their participation grows, women of color will increasingly have the chance to sway electoral results, influence which candidates run and win, and play a greater role in shaping the policy agenda. Again, this new reality becomes apparent when one considers that women of color are the fastest-growing segment of the country’s largest voting bloc: women.”

Though the historic nature of her candidacy may put Hillary in a position to deliver another transformational moment for America—this time for gender equity—there is much work to be done before she can win over any constituency. First: showing she has a vision for tackling their greatest concerns.

Anti-violence activist and writer Wagatwe Wanjuki says that while a lot of people are excited about the prospect of a female president, she has some reservations. “I am waiting for evidence that she gets how we women of color are affected by issues in ways that are different from our white counterparts,” says Wanjuki. “What are her thoughts on the Hyde Amendment? [The amendment that prohibits public funding for abortions, making the procedure inaccessible for low-income women of color.] As president, how is she going to use her bully pulpit to address the high rates of gender-based violence in our communities? What plans does she have to reduce our unique barriers to achieving quality health care?”

Read the rest of the post at Essence.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY wage gap

The 25 Careers With the Smallest Wage Gaps for Women

wage gap careers equal pay day
Robert J. Ross—Getty Images On average, female media producers and directors outearn men.

Plus, 9 fields where women actually earn more

Tuesday is Equal Pay Day, intended to raise awareness of the fact that women still earn less than their male counterparts. That’s 22¢ to the dollar less on average, in case you haven’t been paying attention.

This date was not chosen randomly: Equal Pay Day is purposely held in April to illustrate the fact that it takes four months into the year for the average woman to catch up to the average man’s earnings from the last year. And it’s on a Tuesday to show how long into the week it takes to match a man’s previous-week earnings.

Of course, in some fields, getting up to par is quicker than others.

The Census bureau tracks earnings by gender for more than 500 occupational categories; the table below shows 25 fields where, based on 2013 data, the difference in what she makes and what he makes is the smallest. (You can find out what each of these fields entails by typing in the category listed at O*Net Online, and find your own field’s pay differential via this Census table.)

As you’ll see, there are nine fields where the average woman actually outearns her male counterpart, though the margins of error on these are high enough as to possibly undo the findings. Also worth noting: Half of the professions in the top 25 are made up of a majority of women, vs. only six of the bottom 25.

Some have argued that if women simply went into higher paying fields they could eliminate a wage discrepancy, but the data argue against that. After all, physicians and surgeons—who take home very healthy paychecks—suffer among the greatest pay discrepancies, with women in these fields making 69% of what men do.

Instead, Harvard economist Claudia Goldin, author of Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women, attributes a higher salary differential to the fact that some fields disproportionately incentivize people to work long hours and certain hours. That punishes women who take time out from their careers and require some flexibility in their work lives to raise children.

In aggregate, earnings between men and women are not that different until women enter child-bearing years, Goldin says. “But in some occupations, there isn’t a large penalty for time out of the workforce or shorter hours,” she notes.

What often separates those fields, she says, is that another person with a similar title can take over to serve as a perfect substitute. It’s easier for a woman to leave at 5 p.m. to pick up her kids if information systems or a standardization of product makes handing off her duties costless.

Goldin gives the example of a pharmacist (a profession in which women earn a high 93% of what men do). In that role, a computer system provides access to standard data about the customer, so that the customer needn’t always see the same person.

Okay, good to know, but if your field doesn’t allow this flexibility you likely won’t be able to make changes overnight. Nor are you probably interested in changing industries now just to gain the greater equality offered by the jobs below.

So what can you do? Advocating for yourself and asking the right people to advocate for you can help around the edges.

And Goldin suggests that you might work toward getting the men in your company to work less. The less willing they are to put in long hours without phenomenally more money, she notes, the more likely companies will be to put in place systems that allow workers to be more interchangeable.

“Ironically, rather than women leaning in,” she says, “it’s about getting men to start leaning out.”

 

Occupational Category % Women in Field Median Earnings, Men Median Earnings, Women % Women’s Earnings to Men’s % Margin of Error
1. Media producers and directors 37% $62,368 $66,226 106.2 10.3
2. Cleaners of vehicles and equip. 14% $23,605 $24,793 105.0 9.6
3. Wholesale and retail buyers 49% $41,619 $42,990 103.3 5.9
4. Transportation security screeners 36% $40,732 $41,751 102.5 4.4
5. Social and human service assistants 79% $34,967 $35,766 102.3 11.6
6. Special education teachers 85% $46,932 $47,378 101.0 3.5
7. Transportation, storage, and distrib. mgrs. 18% $52,017 $52,259 100.5 5.5
8. Dishwashers 16% $17,302 $17,332 100.2 7.4
9. Counselors 70% $42,299 $42,369 100.2 2.2
10. Industrial truck/tractor operators 7% $31,002 $30,981 99.9 2.9
11. Massage therapists 76% $29,272 $29,240 99.9 11.1
12. Counter and rental clerks 47% $27,449 $27,194 99.1 19.6
13. Biological scientists 48% $57,653 $57,107 99.1 9.8
14. Tellers 89% $25,564 $25,222 98.7 3.0
15. Musicians, singers, and related 20% $42,988 $42,279 98.4 13.7
16. Misc. personal appearance workers 79% $22,047 $21,632 98.1 4.0
17. Meeting and event planners 81% $47,876 $46,973 98.1 12.7
18. Security/surveillance guards 22% $30,546 $29,883 97.8 4.1
19. Computer network architects 8% $96,549 $94,445 97.8 5.7
20. Social workers 80% $42,821 $41,795 97.6 3.9
21. Computer occupations, all other 23% $66,971 $65,329 97.5 5.0
22. Nonfarm animal caretakers 69% $25,025 $24,401 97.5 9.4
23. Dietitians and nutritionists 88% $49,001 $47,717 97.4 7.7
24. Postal service clerks 50% $54,166 $52,574 97.1 1.5
25. Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks 65% $21,995 $21,329 97.0 4.8

More from Money.com on equal pay:

The 25 Careers in Which Women are Most Underpaid Relative to Men

5 Ways Women Can Close the Pay Gap for Themselves

The Single Best Thing Women Can Do to Help Themselves in Salary Negotiations

TIME feminism

Here’s the History of the Battle for Equal Pay for American Women

Equal Pay Day
Craig F. Walker—Denver Post/Getty Images Activists gathered on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol in downtown Denver, CO, to mark national Equal Pay Day in 2009

The fight for equal pay dates back to the Civil War

Based on national pay-disparity numbers, a hypothetical American woman would have to keep working until roughly April 14, 2015, in order to make the same amount of money as a man doing the same work would have made in 2014 — which is why the activist group the National Committee on Pay Equity has selected Tuesday as this year’s Equal Pay Day. Though the topic will get extra airtime today, the debate about equal pay is nothing new.

In February, 1869, a letter to the editor of the New York Times questioned why female government employees were not paid the same as male ones. “Very few persons deny the justice of the principle that equal work should command equal pay without regard to the sex of the laborer,” the author wrote. “But it is one thing to acknowledge the right of a principle and quite another to practice it.” The author noted that the U.S. Government employed 500 women in the Treasury department, but that they made only half as much as their male colleagues:

“Many of these women are now performing the same grade of work at $900 per annum for which men receive $1800. Most of them, too, have families to support; being nearly all either widow or orphans made by the war.”

That year, a resolution to ensure equal pay to government employees passed the House of Representatives by almost 100 votes, but was ultimately watered down by the time it passed the Senate in 1870.

In 1883, communications across the country ground to a halt when the majority of the workers for Western Union Telegraph Company went on strike, partly to ensure “equal pay for equal work” for its male and female employees (among other demands). The strike wasn’t ultimately successful, but it was a very early public demand for fair pay for women.

By 1911, significant progress had been made. New York teachers were finally granted pay equal to that of their male counterparts, after a long and contentious battle with the Board of Education.

In the 20th century, war was good for women workers. In 1918, at the beginning of World War I, the United States Employment Service published lists of jobs that were suitable for women in order to encourage men in those occupations to switch to jobs that supported the war effort. “When the lists have been prepared…it is believed that the force of public opinion and self-respect will prevent any able-bodied man from keeping a position officially designated as ‘woman’s work,'” the Assistant Director of the U.S. Employment Service said in 1918. “The decent fellows will get out without delay; the slackers will be forced out and especially, I think, by the sentiment of women who stand ready.”

Since women were doing work that men would ordinarily do, the National War Labor Board decided they should be paid the same: “If it shall become necessary to employ women on work ordinarily performed by men, they must be allowed equal pay for equal work.” The same thing happened during WWII, as more women worked in munitions factors and the aircraft industry. During the war effort, equal pay was championed by unions and male workers, although not for entirely altruistic reasons—they were worried that if women were paid less for the same work, management could dilute male workers’ wages after they returned from the war.

After the war ended, the demand for equal pay seemed to lose some steam. In 1947, Secretary of Labor Lewis Schwellenbach tried to get an equal pay amendment passed that would apply to the private sector, arguing, “There is no sex difference in the food she buys or the rent she pays, there should be none in her pay envelope.” But as veterans needed work after the war and women were increasingly expected to stay in the home, Schwellenbach’s bid was ultimately unsuccessful.

National legislation was finally passed in 1963, when John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Law into effect, overcoming opposition from business leaders and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who were concerned that women workers were more costly than male ones. When he signed the bill, Kennedy called it a “significant step forward,” and noted that, “It affirms our determination that when women enter the labor force they will find equality in their pay envelopes.” The next year, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, origin, color, religion or sex.

There have been more legal wins for female workers since then. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 protected pregnant employees, and the Family and Medical Leave act of 1991 allowed parents regardless of genders to take time off. But despite the fact that women made up almost 58% of the labor force in 2012, they still made only 77 cents for every dollar a man made, according to the National Equal Pay Task Force. In 2009, President Obama chose the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as his first piece of legislation, which restores some protections against discrimination that had been stripped in a 2007 Supreme Court case, and incentivizes employers to make their payrolls more fair.

But progress is still slow. Last year, a bill that would have made it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who discuss their wages failed in the Senate.

Read TIME’s 1974 take on equal pay, here in the TIME Vault: Wages and Women

TIME politics

Exclusive: Read a 9-Year-Old’s Letter to Obama About Putting a Woman on U.S. Currency — and His Response

Image courtesy of Kim B., Sofia's mother Sofia, the girl who wrote to Obama asking him to put a woman on U.S. currency

"Why don’t women have coins or dollar bills with their faces on it?"

The little girl who asked Obama last year why there aren’t any women on U.S. bills has finally gotten a letter back from the President — and she’s invited to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

President Obama made waves last year when he mentioned he had received a letter from a little girl asking him to put some women on U.S. currency, which he called a “pretty good idea.” That letter was from Sofia, a Massachusetts girl who was just finishing third grade at the time.

“I was studying Ann Hutchinson, who stood up for women’s rights,” she says. “Almost everyone who chose a boy, on their poster they had pictures of different dollar bills or coins with their person on it. So I noticed, why don’t women have coins or dollar bills with their faces on it?”

Sofia, now 9, knew immediately what she had to do. “I just came home from school and said, ‘I need to write to the president.’” Sofia’s mother provided her letter exclusively to TIME:

Kim B. (Sofia's mother)
Image courtesy of Kim B., Sofia’s mother

For a while, Sofia didn’t hear anything back from the President. She says she “sort of forgot about it” until her dad showed her the President had mentioned her letter in a speech. “I was really excited about it, because I thought that maybe it would actually happen,” she says.

In the months since Sofia wrote to Obama, a campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill has gone viral. The W20 movement is hosting an online poll so the public can vote on which woman should replace Andrew Jackson. The group plans to petition Obama and the Treasury Secretary to make it happen. Almost 220,000 people have voted in the online poll so far. And Sofia, who is now in fourth grade, is a junior ambassador for the campaign.

MORE 10 Countries That Put Women on Cash Before the U.S.

Even though she’s a longtime fan of Ann Hutchinson, Sofia wants to see Rosa Parks on the $20. “What she did was really important,” she says. “If it wasn’t for her, we’d still be segregated today.” She got her whole class to vote in the online poll, and her third grade teacher got her class to vote as well.

Last month, Sofia finally got a personalized letter back from the President, along with an invitation to attend this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll. Here’s what President Obama wrote to her:

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Image courtesy of Kim B., Sofia’s mother

“The women you listed and drew make up an impressive group,” Obama wrote. “And I must say you’re pretty impressive, too.”

“I’ll keep working to make sure you grow up in a country where women have the same opportunities as men, and I hope you’ll stay involved in issues that matter to you,” he continued. “If you keep focusing in school and trying to help others whenever you can, there are no limits to what you can accomplish.”

Sofia wants to be a teacher or a scientist when she grows up — after a younger friend was diagnosed with cancer, she decided she wants to study cures. But she also has some advice for other kids her age who want to make a difference. “Write a letter to somebody important,” she says, “because something could happen and it could actually change.”

Read next: The Campaign to Get a Woman on the $20 Bill Is Picking Up Steam

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 27

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Why did Saudi Arabia lead airstrikes on the rebels who’ve seized Yemen? The answer isn’t as clear as it seems.

By Frederic Wehrey at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

2. Three black swimmers swept the 100-yard freestyle at the NCAA swim championships — and swept away a long-standing stereotype.

By Kavitha Davidson in Bloomberg View

3. Could a Facebook deal to host news content make news brands obsolete?

By Felix Salmon in Fusion

4. A new satellite study reveals the rapid breakdown of Antarctic ice. Low-lying nations should be worried.

By Robert McSweeney in the Carbon Brief

5. Here’s how reproductive health rights for women can help end poverty.

By Valerie Moyer in the Aspen Idea

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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