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Dentist Barbie: 5 Ways to Challenge the Gender Pay Gap

Several years ago, my daughter Mia received a Dentist Barbie for her birthday. Little did I know how significant that doll would become in my lifelong pursuit of inclusion and equality.

Mia had always been a natural caregiver, so she was excited to play dentist and pretend to clean teeth. I immediately went into planning mode and started looking into the costs of sending our four-year-old to medical school. The results were jarring.

Researching dental school costs in the midwest and her earning potential, my jaw dropped to the floor. The second article I read, shared that women dentists only earn 50 percent compared to that of their male counterparts. Unfortunately, that was the theme of the next several articles I read about the gender pay gap in dentistry (as well as other medical fields of study).

Diving a little deeper, I learned it could be 2059 to 2113 before equal pay becomes a reality for women — that’s 39 to 93 years from now! I looked at Mia and glanced back at her dentist barbie. No matter her academic achievements in school or how hard she works, she’ll earn less than what a man would make under similar circumstances. 

“It’ll be 2059 before women receive equal pay. More needs to be done to close the gender wage gap, not only because women deserve to be paid equally for their work, but because it’s hurting families and the economy overall.”

— Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Don’t get me wrong, Mia is strong, resilient and powerful. But the truth is, this world consistently undervalues women’s contributions in the workplace and that’s a harsh reality to accept. This is exactly why LeadHERboard was created; to start the conversation, place more women in leadership positions and eliminate the gender pay gap around the world.

Dentist Barbie holds so much significance to me. Every time I look at that doll, I think of Mia and all the other girls out there — working just as hard (or harder) and receiving 50 percent less. Mattel is now using Barbie to teach women how to dream big and become anything they want to be. And, I believe each of us can be a part of creating meaningful change for equal representation and equal pay.

Here are five ways we can challenge the gender pay gap:

  1. Use our interactive map to hire, do business with, and elevate women professionals in your area.
  2. Nominate your favorite professional and let us give them the recognition they deserve.
  3. As needs arise for a new employee or professional service, make sure you include women in the search process.
  4. Make sure your service providers have diverse representation in all roles and levels of leadership.
  5. Spread the word! Educate yourself on topics surrounding gender equality and invite others to join in the conversation.

It’s up to us to make these dreams of equal pay a reality. Make women a part of your search process, and make sure service providers have a diverse representation in all roles. I don’t know about you, but 2059 is just too long to wait for a solution when we all know the answer to the problem.

Shannon L. Rich

FoundHER of LeadHERboard

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