This Equal Pay Day – What You (Still) Need to Know

As a woman in the workforce, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about the wage gap. While there are laws against paying a woman less than their male coworkers, the wage gap still exists. It’s hard to think that in 2017, women are still making less money than a man.

The conversation about equal pay is something that comes up frequently, but Equal Pay Day is one of the best opportunities to discuss the challenges women continue to face in getting paid for the work they do.

On average, a woman will only make $0.79 to a man’s dollar. Unfortunately, this number only pertains to white women without children. For African American women, Latina women, and Native American women, that rate is even lower. Mothers of any race or ethnicity experience lower rates as well – they are paid only 70 cents per dollar paid to fathers.

But in order to fight the wage gap, you need to be educated about it. Let’s take a look at what Equal Pay Day is, what challenges women continue to face and what you can do to fight against pay discrimination.

What is Equal Pay Day?

Equal Pay Day, which falls on April 4th this year, is a representation of the additional number of days a woman needs to work to match the annual salary of their male counterparts. In order for a man and a woman to make the same salary, a woman must work over three months longer at the wage she’s currently given.

But Equal Pay Day only falls in April for single white women who don’t have any children. For white mothers, the day falls in June. African American women must wait until August for their Equal Pay Day while Native American women have their day in September. Latina women must wait even longer, until November, to finally make the same amount of money as their male coworkers did almost an entire year before.

Each April, Equal Pay Day is acknowledged with everything from protests to sales, allowing women to take 21% off their purchases to represent the disproportion in wage.

But while Equal Pay Day isn’t typically a day of celebration, it is an important day to remember how far women have come. Back in 1964, women were paid only 59% of a man’s dollar, showing a sizeable increase over the last half century.

If we continue at this pace, we’re looking at another half century before women actually earn the same as a man, although it’s unlikely we will take the same progression. It’s anticipated that the wage gap won’t actually close until 2152.

Unfortunately, the wage gap means women are always working to catch up with the men they work with. If a man ends his career at 60, a woman would need to continue working until she is 71 to finally reach the same salary. Just as before, this statistic only applies to single white women. Mothers and minority women would need to continue working much longer.

About the Wage Gap

The wage gap has become such a controversial subject because there are many factors that play into how the $0.79 to a man’s dollar figure developed. While many people like to write off the discrimination as misleading or a lie, it actually is a strong representation when you consider factors like promotions, job assignments and the earning capacity for typically “female” jobs.

But we do see some changing factors in the ways different demographics experience the wage gap. For example, younger women are closer to receiving equal pay than older women. Those between 16 and 44 are earning above 80% of what men are paid, but women 45 and over are making closer to 75%.

This data can tell us a few things. On the one hand, it may tell us that the next generation is pushing harder for equal pay. But on the other, this drop in pay equality may just tell us women are reaching their caps. At 45, men may be promoted to higher positions with higher salaries while women have hit their personal glass ceiling.

Interestingly enough, the data collected about the wage gap tells us that the more educated a woman is, the larger the pay discrimination she faces. While women with only a high school diploma earned $0.80 to a man’s dollar, women with advanced degrees were making only $0.74.

Fighting the Wage Gap this Equal Pay Day

Unfortunately, we won’t just wake up one day to find that the wage gap has disappeared. In order to receive the same salary as our male coworkers, we need to stand up and fight for the pay we deserve. This means asking for the raise we know we deserve, going after the big promotions and ensuring women of all ethnicities, races and education levels are paid fairly.

This Equal Pay Day, do what you can to make your voice heard. Whether it is organizing a conversation in your office, attending a rally or calling your elected government officials to talk about what they’re doing to close the wage gap, acknowledging the discrimination is the first step in seeing a change.

For more information about equal pay or for tips on how to finally ask for that promotion or raise, subscribe to Punched Clocks.

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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