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6 Women on Finding Out They Make Less Than Their Male Coworkers
They were shocked and angry—and then they took action.
Nicole Russin-McFarland, 32
Throughout my career, I have found out that, as a freelancer, I was paid less money than men doing the same job. In every situation, I learned about the disparity because I spoke to male freelancers for the same publications, some of whom were less experienced than I was. I have also had issues with publications trying not to pay me, although they paid the men on time. The men told me it was sexism.
In each circumstance, I confronted the editors for not paying me and heard every excuse, including one magazine telling me that because the check was ‘lost in the mail,’ they had to deduct a FedEx fee from my paycheck to confirm it would get there. They did—an exaggerated amount that was more than FedEx said it would be.
A few times, I have also confronted editors about the pay difference between me and less experienced male freelance journalists. The editors, often female, said the difference was excusable because of the ‘content’ provided—but we provided similar content. The editors were forced to pay me, but they also fired me, so I quit complaining. If you complain, you’re given ‘go away’ money.”
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I went to my line manager. I had the same work experience, more responsibility in my role, and was leading more value from a lead conversion perspective. I was immediately told that discussing salary was a gross misconduct and that any more [discussion] would lead to disciplinary action. I then sought advice from a family member who is an HR Director and went to the managing director with a written complaint. They eventually raised my salary to match his, but I was placed in a new role—all very clever. The other guy was eventually fired because he wasn’t good at his job.”