Feminism | Posted by Becka W on 04/10/2013

Five TV Characters Who Could Use A Raise

How Liz Lemon feels about the wage gap

There are so many awesome depictions of professionally ambitious ladies on TV right now. But after thinking about Equal Pay Day yesterday, and acknowledging that women still earn an average of only 77 cents to every dollar men earn, I had to wonder: what’s Liz Lemon’s wage gap? Are ALL of my favorite working women on TV underpaid? After looking into it, I came up with a depressing answer: yes. Here are my top five favorite underpaid female heroines. Who are your TV working heroines? Who did I leave off the list? Let me know!

1) Liz Lemon of 30 Rock

The very first person I thought of when I thought about hard-working women on TV was OBVIOUSLY Liz Lemon. Girlfriend works HARD. She works extremely late, keeps crazy hours, and throws her life, heart, and soul into her work – and enjoys every single second of it. Plus, female producers/directors have median weekly earnings of $1,070; while men have median weekly earnings of $1,131. Hers wasn’t the biggest or most shocking gap on my list, but $61 per week translates to $3,172 per year – that’s an awful lot of Cheesy Blasters!

2) Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation

And of course, Leslie Knope (AKA my own personal hero/spirit animal) came in close second — mostly because we have similar priorities. Leslie is the most dedicated to the Pawnee Parks & Recreation Department and to the city of Pawnee in general. She doesn’t have an off switch for work, but she still manages to make it fit into her life – mostly because she incorporates her friends, work, and love life together. And chances are Leslie could use a couple of extra dollars in her paycheck – female first-line supervisors or managers of office and administrative support workers make only 84% of what their male counterparts do.

3) Max Black of 2 Broke Girls

Max works incredibly hard – she deals with difficult customers full-time at a diner and is an entrepreneur with her own cupcake business. She has to work harder than her male counterparts to save up money for her business – waitresses make only 85% of what men do, with median weekly earnings of $381 vs. the $419 their male counterparts make.

4) Juliet O’Hara of Psych

Juliet dedicates her life to protecting the people of Santa Barbara, plus has to put up with all the craziness of Shawn, Gus, and Lasseter,who probably earn more than she does. Women in protective service occupations make only 76% of what men in similar positions do.

5) Mindy Lahiri of The Mindy Project

Mindy Kaling’s character on The Mindy Project may be a partner and boss at her medical practice, but she still has to work magnificently hard to be taken seriously by her male counterparts, who often write off her suggestions and improvements for the practice, like “Mindy’s Minute” – which everyone initially makes fun of, but nobody can come up with a better option to get the name of the practice out there. Plus, as a native New Yorker, I can tell you RIGHT NOW that being on Taxi TV is AWESOME. I’m jealous of you, Mindy Lahiri.

Mindy is also likely wildly underpaid – female physicians and surgeons make only 64% of what their male counterparts do.

What hard-working female characters did I leave off this list? Let me know! And to learn more about the gender-based wage gap, visit Narrow the Gap!

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Post Your Comment

  • Katie @ at 8:00 pm, April 10th, 2013

    This post is fantastic. I’ve never seen these statistics broken down like this and I love it.

  • What’s Going On? | Stir-Fried But Sweet @ at 9:58 pm, April 10th, 2013

    [...] Mindy Lahiri and many other female Physicians and Surgeons like her deserve a pay raise! And get [...]

  • Taylor @ at 7:50 pm, April 11th, 2013

    Dr. Temperance Brennan on the TV show Bones is a forensic anthropologist for the fiction Jeffersonian Museum. Female scientists earn approximately €1,500 less than their male counterparts. The glass ceiling for women scientists is thickest at the transition to the professional level. Dr. Brennan, or Bones for short, definitely deserves a raise!

  • Camille B @ at 10:21 pm, April 11th, 2013

    Awesome article. Cannot believe some don’t believe the gap exist.

  • Telemachus @ at 4:55 am, April 12th, 2013

    I have a question for the writer of this piece. Do these statistics really tell us about women being underpaid because they are women? Is it possible that the wage discrepancy is not the result of discrimination but of differing work habits? The wage gap is something to combat no matter what. I’m not a troll, I’m just genuinely interested in talking about whether the entire wage gap is a result of discrimination or not. The median wage of male workers vs the median wage of female workers does not control for the influence of other variables. The answer to this question would tell us if its a good judgement to say these women are underpaid.

  • On “A Little F’d Up” and the White Savior Complex | fbomb @ at 2:02 pm, November 18th, 2013

    [...] like the wage gap and underrepresentation of women in publishing and politics – you know the type of issues that we cover all the time on the FBomb in addition to issues like the affordable care [...]

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