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Billions of reasons for women to celebrate

On Sunday, global tech giant Google settled a lawsuit of R1.86 billion to 15,000 women who were paid less than their male counterparts for the same job. 

It started in 2017, when former employees Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, Kelli Wisuri and Heidi Lamar filed a lawsuit against Google because they were being paid less than men and were deliberately placed in roles that did not promote growth. 

Lamar, who worked at the Google preschool where employees would leave their children during work hours, earned $18.51 (R296) an hour. Her male colleague with fewer qualifications and less experience earned $21 (R335) an hour, reports Business Insider. 

The case quickly became a class-act lawsuit as more women came forward with the same grievances. 

Last year, in a separate case, Google was ordered to cough up R40 million to more than 5,000 employees after the US Department of Labour found it was underpaying female engineers and wasn’t hiring Asian applicants..

Microsoft found itself embroiled in a lawsuit in 2015 when a female employee claimed the organisation was not paying women the same as men and did not support career growth for women. 

In Africa, where women make up 50% of the workforce, the gender pay gap is immense. For example, South Africa ranks first on the Africa Gender Equality Index but women earn 38% less than men. 

The fight to close the gap is ongoing and we salute women who fearlessly go after corporations that exploit them, ultimately clearing the path so that other women have an easier journey. 

Pease wraps it up: “As a woman who’s spent her entire career in the tech industry, I’m optimistic that the actions Google has agreed to take as part of this settlement will ensure more equity for women.” 

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