If you’re a woman, or if you know a woman, get ready to be angry. Despite a very slowly closing wage gap since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, women still make just 79% of men’s wages.
Evelyn Murphy, economist and president of The Wage Project, estimates that this gap amounts to a loss of $1.2 million in wages for a female college graduate over her lifetime.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that women won’t receive equal pay until 2059.
This chart visualizes the discrepancy since the 1960s:
We caught up with Gigi Stetler, an accomplished businesswoman and entrepreneur and author of the book Unstoppable! Surviving is Just the Beginning, to hear about her experience as a woman in the working world:
How would you describe your memoir, in two sentences or less?
Unstoppable is a searing memoir that details a challenging life full of upheavals and emotions. Covering a chilling array of crimes and retribution—from neglect and poverty to violence and victim’s rights—it makes the case for happy endings even under the most violent and disturbing scenarios.
You’re an entrepreneur and CEO. What’s your key to success?
I have always greeted life as a warrior, and not a victim, because playing the “Victim Card” will only slow you down. Therefore, instead of taking offense to their gender stereotypes, I tried to laugh it off. I also realized that my male competitors’ refusal to leave their comfort zones could help me gain market dominance. I eventually came to own a dealership, working 11 years without ever missing a single day. I hustled my way to the top, despite facing gender stereotypes, and became the No. 1 RV dealer on the East Coast.
How has your experience with violence and abuse affected you, personally and professionally?
My life has been lined with abusive and unhealthy relationships. When I was in my early 20s, a crazed homeless man stabbed me 21 times and ran off, after I allowed him to live for months in the apartment complex that I managed. When I lept back from the brink of death, I also dealt with physical and emotional abuse in a relationship. I want people to know that they don’t have to let experiences like this define them. You can recover, find your inner strength, and become stronger than ever.
What’s it like to be a woman in the male-dominated industry of RV sales?
It’s not easy. When I first stepped into RV sales in the 1980s, I was with a bunch of older, fat-cat, cigar-smoking, scotch-drinking good ol’ boys who were not open to fresh ideas. I remember suggesting they change the hours of operation to better accommodate customers. That’s when the men in charge told me “to go home and bake cookies.” Instead, I went home and made millions. I have been knocked off my horse more times than I can remember. The only thing separating success from failure, as I see it, is the ability to maintain your dream and to stay motivated. I made a promise to myself a very long time ago that I would be a millionaire. That inner hunger helped me carve a path to success in a man’s industry that conspired to keep me out.
Would you tell us about Equal Pay Day and why it’s significant?
Equal Pay Day is part of a national movement to close the gender pay gap in America. It’s amazing to think that in order for women to earn the salary that men earned last year, they would have had to work from January, 2015 to April 12, 2016. The gap may be discouraging, but we can’t let it shatter our dreams. It’s time for women to be relentless, break barriers, and get the salary we deserve.
What advice would you give women facing obstacles in the working world?
Never give up. At some point, you will have many—and sometimes all—doors closed. Find a window, and climb your way back to the top every time you fall. Remember, failure is motivation to win. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up that reveal your true potential.
You can connect with Stetler at www.gigistetler.com. For more inspiring stories about women, check out: