On Tuesday night's The Daily Show, Jon Stewart and contributor Kristen Schaal discussed a new study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research. The study claims that true pay equality in America — for women to be paid the same as men — isn't likely to come to fruition until 2058.
"Right around the time scientists predict the earth will be covered in water," Stewart said. "Hope your precious money floats, ladies."
It's not just about the de jure wage gap, either: Efforts like the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and 2009's Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act have made small strides there, though there is still work to be done. But the less discussed issue is the systemic gap, or what Schaal described as what makes it "easier for men to go into higher-paying jobs," with men also receiving greater support upon moving into those positions. Somehow, it's going to take 43 years to resolve that.
So what is gonna be accomplished in the time it takes to close the wage gap? Turns out, almost all of science fiction's greatest dreams are more quickly doable than achieving income equality. A flying car? In development for as early as 2017. Humans on Mars? By 2030. Even 3-D printing a human heart is supposed to be achievable by 2025.
As science continues to move quickly, women's right to equal pay moves at a snail's pace. At this rate, as Schaal points out, the answer to the equality gap might be better resolved by printing some rights on a 3-D printer.
While the gender pay gap and its myriad problems have been well-documented, putting it into this kind of temporal perspective is somewhat shocking. Flying cars and x-ray vision is cool, but you know what's even cooler? Equality.