What Is Ours

Shannon Derby,
Two Rivers, WI

One of my first jobs was working at Quick Lube doing oil changes.  I was the first woman to work there. There was an incentive of a fifty cent raise to get certified and another fifty cent raise for good attendance. I went through all the appropriate training and came to work every day, but I never got either of the raises. It was clear that had to do with me being a woman.

Now I work as an interpreter in a school, and wage inequality still impacts my life after nearly a decade. It’s hard to believe that female teachers are paid less than their male counterparts, in a career field where women predominate. But believe it or not, statistics collected by the Department of Labor make it clear that women earn less than men in almost all occupations commonly held by women.1

As a single mother of three, I am the sole breadwinner in my family, so the wage gap hits me hard at home. Closing the pay gap would mean more financial freedom for my family, and that my kids could enjoy more experiences. Unexpected car issues, outgrowing pants, and needing new shoes don’t wait till the next pay check. This makes it really difficult to save even a little money. I’m definitely not alone facing these issues. If working women were paid the same as men of the same age with similar education and hours of work, the poverty rate for single mothers would be cut nearly in half, from 28.7 percent to 15.0 percent.2

After years of continuing my education and advancing my career, I would have never expected the pay gap to prevent my family from really attaining economic security.    I joined 9to5 to unite with other strong, working women to combat this out-of-date wage gap that women are still facing. As women, we need to stick together and fight for what is ours.


This blog post is part of 9to5’s collection Faces of the Wage Gap, illuminating the many factors which contribute to income inequality and the necessary solutions needed to reach true economic justice for all women. Please share via social media!


  1. Coukos, Pamela. “Myth Busting the Pay Gap.” United States Department of Labor. June 7, 2012.
  2. How Equal Pay for Working Women Would Grow the Economy and Reduce Poverty.” Institute for Women’s Policy Research. January 2014.
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