This week marks Equal Pay Day. A woman working full-time and year round needed to work an extra three months and 24 days (until March 24) to earn the same amount a man made on average in 2020. That’s because the gender pay gap persists despite laws and years of advocacy.
“It’s wrong,” said President Biden who hosted a White House event on Equal Pay Day, flanked by First Lady Jill Biden and soccer greats Megan Rapinoe and Margaret Purce.
“It’s shocking when you look at the numbers,” added Biden, going on to note that women in nearly every job still earn about 82 cents on the dollar compared to men and that the gap is wider for women of color. “It doesn’t matter if you’re an electrician, an accountant or part of the best damn soccer team in the world. The pay gap is real.”
Rapinoe emphasized that despite all her wins and trophies she is paid less than men for what she does. “I’ve been devalued, I’ve been disrespected and dismissed because I am a woman, and I’ve been told I don’t deserve any more than less because I’m a woman.”
Rapinoe, who spearheaded the U.S. national women’s soccer team’s battle for equal pay, earlier on March 24 testified before Congress, again emphasizing that: “One cannot simply outperform inequality or be excellent enough to escape discrimination of any kind.”
At the end of the White House event, Biden signed a proclamation declaring this March 24 Equal Pay Day. But, as he noted, the day wasn’t actually Equal Pay Day for all women. According to AAUW’s Equal Pay Day Calendar:
• Asian American and Pacific Islander Women’s Equal Pay Day is March 9. Asian American and Pacific Islander women are paid 85 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
• Mother’s Equal Pay Day is June 4. Mothers are paid 70 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.
• Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is August 3. Black women are paid 63 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
• Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day is September 8. Native women are paid 60 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
• Latina’s Equal Pay Day is October 21. Latinas are paid 55 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
The AAUW also broke down the gender pay gap by major metropolitan area. Seattle didn’t do too well.
Several studies released around Equal Pay Day paint an ongoing bleak picture of the persistent gender pay gap, saying it has been aggravated by the impact of COVID-19 and that the wider gap for Black, Native American and Latina women remains unconscionable.
Seattle-based Payscale said it found that “the pay gap is wider for women of color at every job level. We also observe that many pay gaps seen by women of color have widened since last year, a possible result of pay cuts or unemployment disproportionately affecting these women amidst COVID-19.”
Researchers and advocates point out that the gender pay gap isn’t just a question of earning less right now. It shapes the future economic stability of women. The National Women’s Law Center found that: “Over a 40-year career, a woman starting her career today stands to lose a staggering $406,280 to the wage gap. But Latinas face typical lifetime losses that total over $1.1 million and for Black and Native American women, it is nearly $1 million.”
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research concluded in the report it issued this week: “To improve women’s earnings and reduce the gender earnings gap, women need stronger efforts to ensure non-discriminatory hiring and pay practices, better training and career counseling, and improved work-family supports.”
Advocates say those stronger efforts include passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, reintroduced in January by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington.
To learn more and see how you can help, check out these reports and resources. Use Comments to add more.
- AAUW Activist Toolkit
- National Partnership for Women and Families factsheet and proposed steps forward
- Economic Opportunity Institute facts on the pay gap and laws in Washington
- Center for American Progress 10 actions to promote equal pay
- National Women’s Law Center take action options
- Washington State Department of Labor and Industry resources for the Equal Pay and Opportunities Act