Now That Women Can Appear on Our $10 Bills, Can They Make More Money, Too?

by Kasia Anderson

Hey, did you hear that an American woman of historical import is slated to appear on the $10 bill? Is anyone investigating whether her ten-spot will be worth the same as the one with Alexander Hamilton on it—or would its actual value come in at, say, $7.70?

Maybe by the time the new femmed-up bill makes its debut in … 2020 (the wheels of progress, they turn slowly), there will be more equal distribution of what the paper currency represents.

Let’s review: According to the Pew Research Center’s 2015 report on the gender pay gap, women still lag considerably behind men on the pay scale. The Pew study put women at 84 percent vis-a-vis their male counterparts who worked on the same basis, part- or full-time. Meanwhile, the White House’s findings were based on full-time figures, which brought the ratio down to 77 percent for America’s female workforce.

But back to the exciting matter of the new $10 bill, because maybe pictorial representation of inspiring women on our money will suddenly compel lawmakers to buy into the notion that the women of this country deserve equal compensation. As The New York Times’ Jackie Calmes reported Thursday, the secretary of the Treasury, Jacob J. Lew, made the magnanimous gesture to ask the public for ideas about what woman should be honored by having her face showcased on the kind of money that folds:

The favorites for portraiture on the first day since Mr. Lew’s announcement seemed to be Eleanor Roosevelt, the first lady, feminist and United Nations ambassador; Rosa Parks, the civil rights icon; and Harriet Tubman, the slave-turned-abolitionist who was the top choice of an online petition earlier this year. Many Americans want to give a second chance to the social activist Susan B. Anthony or Sacagawea, the Shoshone guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition, who in recent years were honored on two $1 coins that proved so unpopular that their minting ended.

And many people, apparently unaware that, under law, those pictured on American bills must be deceased, expressed their preferences for the likes of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nancy Reagan, Beyoncé and “Notorious RBG,” otherwise known as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court.

That’s cute with the “RBG.” And it’s a heartening notion that a woman can make a strong showing on the bill, although she’ll have a little male chaperone in the form of ascaled-down image of Alexander Hamilton in the new design, just to be sure she can handle the job. Those dead presidents are hard to shake.

It would be nice, though, in addition to the public image boost (hashtag: #TheNewTen) that this campaign is helpfully giving female figures from America’s storied past, to draw as much national attention to the issue of how income still splits unevenly along gender lines. Otherwise it all adds up to just more lip service from the people who handle our money—and haven’t we had enough of that already?

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