As the new co-anchor of Today, Hoda Kotb is reportedly raking in $7 million per year — the same as her co-host Savannah Guthrie — but there’s a catch: Each woman earns $18 million less than Matt Lauer and their combined salaries are still $11 million short of his.
On Tuesday, an NBC “insider” told the New York Post‘s Page Six, “Hoda isn’t complaining about the money. She has landed the big job she always dreamed of and most definitely deserves. Plus, Matt’s salary reflected the long time he was on the show — 25 years. If things go well, Hoda could ask for more next time if she re-ups her contract. But the figures underline the huge wage disparity at NBC News.”
Social media celebrated Tuesday when NBC promoted Kotb to co-anchor of Today, alongside Guthrie, creating the first all-female lead anchor team in the history of the show. Kotb replaced Lauer, who was fired in November after a slew of female employees revealed he had sexually harassed them. Lauer was earning a reported annual salary of $25 million.
— Hoda Kotb (@hodakotb) January 2, 2018
Kotb will maintain her job as co-anchor of the show’s fourth hour, with Kathie Lee Gifford, a role she’s held since 2007. Per the Post, “Kotb gets up around 4 a.m. to host Today from 7 to 9 a.m., then records updates for the West Coast and other video before going back on the air.”
While the Post suggests that Kotb is content with her salary, it was a different story for E! host Catt Sadler, who in December quit her job after learning that her male co-host earns double her salary.
Despite the fact that women make up half the workforce, are the sole earners or co-earners in families with children, and outrank men in undergrad and college degrees, women earn less in nearly every occupation, according to data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).
Here are the stark stats, per the National Women’s Law Center: Women in the United States earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts, and the wage gap worsens when calculated by race:
White women earn 75.3 cents.
Black women earn 63 cents.
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women earn 59 cents.
Native women earn 57 cents.
Latina women earn 54 cents.
There are a number of logistical and subconscious factors why women earn less than men, according to Chandra Childers, a senior research scientist at the IWPR. “The pay gap in part is due to occupational segregation, meaning that women tend to work in lower-paying fields,” Childers tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Women are three times as likely to work in jobs that would leave a family of four below the poverty limit — for example, home-health aides, elementary school teachers, or maids.”
And the stats are no less hopeful for lucrative fields such as marketing, publishing, or television journalism, as in the case of Kotb and Guthrie. “The higher a woman rises in education and income, the larger the gap,” says Childers. “That’s due in part to implicit bias, factors which may not be so obvious.” For example, giving men more rewarding tasks, better and more frequent mentorship, and in regard to parents, the benefit of the doubt.
A recent study conducted by the National Women’s Law Center found that mothers are paid 71 cents for each dollar earned by fathers, even when the occupation is accounted.
Emily Martin, NWLC vice president for workplace justice, told the Chicago Tribune in April, “But if you look at, for example, retail sales supervisors, that’s a place where there are a lot of moms employed and there are a lot of dads employed: Dads typically make about $24 an hour in that occupation, while moms typically make $15 an hour. So there are huge gaps, even when you correct for occupation.”
Calling it the “Motherhood penalty,” Martin says, “That is partly due to the fact that people still have a lot of gender stereotypes about the competence of working mothers. Maybe sometimes they are unconscious. People may not always be realizing what is affecting their decision-making, but we have a lot of studies showing that people, if they know a woman is a mother, see her as less competent, less committed to work and thus as worth less. While if they know a man is a father, they have the opposite set of assumptions, and they are actually willing to pay him more than if he were not a father.”
Sometimes the wage gap can be explained by seniority or longevity. Lauer worked at Today for much longer than Kotb and Guthrie, but the decision should be case-specific. “It’s often assumed that seniority or longevity means one is more effective at their job, but that’s not always true,” says Childers. “And in the case of the Today anchors, does seniority justify an $18 million pay gap?”
Short of fining companies that don’t pay men and women equally, a law that Iceland put into effect Monday as the first country to classify the wage gap as illegal, there are potential ways to close the gap. “We need access to paid sick and family leave, especially for women of color, and more pay transparency provisions,” says Childers. “How can women speak up about making less if they don’t know they make less?”
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