Apart from being a National Grilled Cheese Day (I’m not making this up), today is also another national holiday—only this one isn’t exactly one to celebrate. April 12 is also known as Equal Pay Day, which according to the website was established by the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996 “as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages.”
In other words, today is also “cry if you happen to be a working woman in America” day.
To commemorate the occassion, President Obama designated the National Women’s Party headquarters a national monument. Democratic lawmakers have submitted equal pay legislation to Congress, but there’s virtually no chance of the GOP-controlled House and Senate agreeing to act on that legislation.
And today Boston Globe columnist Shirley Leung published an article on a new online wage gap calculator that women can use to see roughly how much less they get paid than their male counterparts. That’s right—Regardless of your age or occupation, you can get a general sense of just how much you’re getting screwed over by the current wage disparity in America’s corporate system.
For example, according to the calculator, a 20-year-old woman working in the arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media fields makes on average $4 less than a man per hour. The calculator also takes the extra steps to show women how much that comes out to in a year, and equates the lost money to various items a girl could buy if the pay were equal (i.e. 263,870 cups of coffee each year).
If that isn’t depressing enough, here’s a quick reminder that despite much progress made since the 20th century to further women’s rights, the gender wage gap in America has actually been increasing steadily over time rather than shrinking. And if lawmakers do not start putting wage inequality higher up on the agenda, that trend isn’t going to change any time soon.
It seems ridiculous in this day and age—when women are consistently breaking the glass ceiling and have found a place in just about every profession in existence—that we’re still not getting the same pay for the same work. Antiquated, mysoginistic thinking has contributed to this phenomenon, and it’s only by constantly challenging these baseless views that women can expect to see any change. Just think about—If half the population is currently getting snubbed on wages, that means that half the population can also choose to stand up and fight for legislation and mandates, which can make a huge difference. But that’s a big “if,” and it would take a great deal of coordination, campaigning and effort to make that dream a reality.
But if this article has you feeling incredibly depressed on the current state of things, just remember—It’s also free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s! You’re welcome.