“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal—”

Stop right there. All men are created equal. Yes, just men.

While perhaps Thomas Jefferson meant the first line of the Declaration of Independence as a general statement to say that America is a land of equal opportunity, “men” is still the operative word in the sentence.

Women have never been equal to men, and even in 2017, it’s still true. Women with a full-time job in America are, on average, paid 80 cents to every dollar that a man is paid.

Some people argue that this is due to things like possible maternity leave, which diminishes a woman’s value in the workplace. So, essentially, women are being punished because they might—might—reproduce. Because they might give birth to a child who grows up to find the cure for cancer, or a child who becomes the next President of the Untied States. It’s constantly in debate whether a woman can balance motherhood with a successful career. But the real debate should be this—relatively speaking, can a woman ever have a successful career when she’s paid less right off the bat simply for having a vagina?

Potential pregnancy leave is not a valid reason for women to get paid less than men—it’s a weak excuse to make this gross injustice seem reasonable. Ladies, it’s time to open our eyes to what’s really happening in the business world. It’s not the 1950s anymore, when a woman was expected to stay at home and take care of the children.

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women are the breadwinners in four out of ten households in America—in other words, almost half of the workforce. Furthermore, women receive more college and graduate degrees than men (Costello & Hegewisch, 2016). Yet despite all this, there’s a 21% gap between what men and women make.

And it’s not just everyday women who have to deal with this issue—even Hollywood actresses get paid less than their male counterparts. Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence spoke out about the issue in her recent essay about getting paid less than her male costars in the movie “American Hustle.” She stated:

Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, and Bradley Cooper all fought and succeeded in negotiating powerful deals for themselves. If anything, I’m sure they were       commended for being fierce and tactical, while I was busy worrying about coming across as a brat and not getting my fair share. (Lawrence, 2015)

No woman should have to worry about how she comes across to her employer when negotiating a salary at a new job. In fact, she should not have to negotiate at all—not because of her gender. A salary should be based on a person’s assets to a company, and nothing else.

The numbers tell us that the workforce needs women to survive. So why are we being treated like we’re dispensable?