April 28 is Equal Pay Day, made necessary by the fact that women are paid an amount far less than the amount that they have earned and that they would be paid if they happened to have a Y chromosome. According to the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC):
Women working full-time, year-round are paid only about 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. For women of color, the numbers are even worse — African-American women earn 69 cents and Latinas earn 59 cents for every dollar paid to men. This wage gap cannot be dismissed as the result of “women’s choices” in career and family matters. In fact, authoritative studies show that even when all relevant career and family attributes are taken into account, there is still a significant, unexplained gap in men’s and women’s earnings. Thus, even when women make the same career choices as men and work the same hours, they still earn less.
In other words, if the white guy at the desk next to you earns $100,000 (his desk is on Wall Street, just trying to keep the math simple), that means you earn $78,000. If you are a white woman. If you are a Latina, you are only getting $59,000.
The National Organization for Women has a whole lot more data on pay inequity including:
- Women’s median pay was less than men’s in each and every one of the 20 industries and 25 occupation groups surveyed by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2007.Even men working in female-dominated occupations tend to earn more than women working in those same occupations.
- According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), if equal pay for women were instituted immediately, across the board, it would result in an annual $319 billion gain nationally for women and their families (in 2008 dollars). Over her working life, a typical woman could expect to gain a total of $210,000 in additional income if equal pay were the norm (these numbers include part-time workers).
- When The WAGE Project looked exclusively at full-time workers, they estimated that women with a high school diploma lose as much as $700,000 over a lifetime of work, women with a college degree lose $1.2 million and professional school graduates may lose up to $2 million. Not only are these inequities enormously detrimental to women and their families, wage inequities follow women into their retirement years, reducing their Social Security benefits, pensions, savings and other financial resources.
Forget unfair, this is wrong. Totally wrong. And it is time to end this gross economic discrimination now. Right now. So what can you do? The NWLC has the following suggestions:
Sign the Fair Pay Campaign Pledge!
1. I support fair pay for women.
2. I will urge my Senators to support the Paycheck Fairness Act.
3. I will forward the Fair Pay Campaign Pledge to five friends.
Contact Your Senators
In January 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. This victory is a major step forward in giving women the ability to challenge unequal pay.
Our next step is to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to improve the law, close the loopholes, and encourage employers to review their policies. The House passed the Act in January, and it is now moving forward in the Senate.
NOW has more action ideas including this gem:
Host an “Un-happy hour” on April 28 to signal your dissatisfaction with the wage gap. See if a local bar, club, or restaurant (try the women-owned ones first!) will give you drink specials for the night: ideas include Dollar Drinks for 78 Cents or women pay 78% of their tabs and men pay 100%.