How this local principal defies gender pay gap (includes photo essay)

To listen to the accompanying podcast, click here.

Dr. Carmen Harris is an elementary school principal in central Florida who represents how far women have come in the workforce and professional settings. She started as a teacher and taught almost every grade in the last 20 years, and now leads a school.

This photo essay is comprised of images that showcase Harris day-to-day work-life balance and activities outside of work. Just like men, women work full-time jobs while also balancing marriage, children, social lives and more. Yet to this day, some women make far less for the same jobs.

Part of looking your best is grooming yourself. Dr. Harris prepares for her day by incorporating things that she loves like fashion, hair, and makeup into her daily routine. She now mentally prepares for a sometimes 50-minute commute to work.

Dr.Harris works diligently as the principal to ensure that the facility stays in order and that all workday operations are fulfilled. According to Pew Research Center, the pay gap narrowed for all groups of women from 1982 to 2022, but more so for White women than for Black and Hispanic women. As a black woman–Dr. Harris operates the workplace differently than maybe some of her counterparts.

Dr. Harris keeps friends and family in mind while pushing through her day.
Aside from teaching teachers and overseeing school operations, she is a wife, mom, sister, aunt, and daughter. According to the Pew Research Center, women with similar levels of education have a gap in the earnings of mothers and non-mothers. 

She works accurately and diligently with co-workers to ensure order on school grounds. Pew Research Center Days, that gender pay gap increases are also driven by economic factors. Men and women earnings can be heavily impacted in different industries based on external factors.

The fight for equal pay for educators still persists to this day.
This photo of the definition of principal hangs on the outside of Dr. Harris’ office to show passersby a concise overview of what happens on the other side of this door and to be a motivator. In 2019, a group of ten women educators in Verona, found out they were being paid nearly $20,000 less than less-experienced men doing the same jobs, according to the National Education Association. The fight for equal pay for educators persists to this day.

 Throughout the school day, Dr. Harris engages with faculty and students to maintain peace and structure.

After putting in long hours at school each week, Dr. Harris treats herself to a spa day to reset for the next week and new struggles.

While enjoying her mani-pedi, she scrolls on Facebook to catch up with old friends and uses this time to also call friends and relatives.

Taking care of your hands when you work full time and wear many hats, is a non-negotiable. Indulging in a touch of self-care is also her priority.

Treating herself to a well-needed self-care session after a busy week is her way to relax and kick back. It’s important to work hard but also to relax hard.

Christina Harris is a junior majoring in digital journalism with a minor in English. After her studies, she wishes to pursue a career in the entertainment field dealing with television.

Duvasana Bisoondial is a sophomore majoring in Digital Journalism and getting a certificate in Women's and Gender Studies at Florida International University. Her goal as a future journalist is to highlight the social and cultural contributions made by Caribbean immigrants in America and other parts of the world.
Currently, she enjoys adding on to her list of books to be read and watching Indian movies, both old and new.

Angelica Garcia is a senior majoring in Digital Communications + Interactive Media. In the future, she aspires to work in the sports industry on a media and marketing team. Garcia hopes to pursue social media as it can help promote herself and her content. She is determined to bring a vision to life while working on projects.

Christal Powell is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Digital TV and Multimedia Production with a minor in photography. After her studies, Christal hopes to pursue a career in digital production or photography. She also likes to travel, cook, and write.