Happy Equal Pay Day

Happy Equal Pay Day


What is Equal Pay Day?

Equal Pay day is a symbolic date that changes every year, dedicated to raising awareness of the gendered pay gap. The date symbolizes how far into the year women would have to work to earn the same amount that men earned the previous year. This year women would have to work from january 2016-April 2017 to earn the same amount men earned in 2016 alone. That’s like 4 extra months people, and that roughly translates to women working FOR FREE for 94 days in 2016.  


We’re gonna hit you guys with the facts real quick:

  • Incarcerated workers are paid an average of 93 cents an hour (if they’re lucky)

  • The gap, at the current rate of change, will not close until 2059

  • One year of birth control costs 51 hours of work at minimum wage

  • Black women make 63 cents for every dollar a white man makes

  • Latinas make 54 cents for every dollar a white man makes

  • Women are the sole or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of American families

  • On average, women earn 80 cents for every dollar a man makes

  • Female doctors have better patient outcomes yet are paid 10% less

  • When it comes to parenthood 40% of mothers stop working or move to part time vs 3% of fathers

  • Value of unpaid work in US estimated at 26-42% of GDP, and globally women shoulder much more of the unpaid work than men.

  • If we closed the gender pay gap 3.1 million working women and their families would be lifted out of poverty

  • Women with identical career credentials are rated lower than men by employers, need advanced degrees to compensate (studies show men of color also experience this)


Some Pay Gap terms and definitions you should know

  • Marriage and Parenthood penalty/premium - when women become married or mothers even if they make no changes in their career field they experience more discrimination. Men associated with being married/fathers are more likely to be hired and given promotions.

  • Glass ceiling - an intangible barrier within the hierarchy that keeps women and minorities from obtaining upper level positions

  • Sex stratification - refers to the differences in equality, treatment, and advantages of people in an occupation or in society based on their sex.

  • Glass escalator - when men enter a female dominated field they tend to get promoted faster than women do

  • Occupational feminization- when we start to see more women taking career positions that were previously held by men, the pay goes down

  • Glass cliff - when a company is in jeopardy, more women are likely to be promoted. Women are more likely to be elected into leaderships in companies or countries in times of crisis.  If a company fails under female leadership it can be blamed on women’s incompetence.



The gender gap is typically addressed when it comes to professional careers, but the problem begins much earlier. The gender gap in higher education when it comes to STEM majors displays a consistent prediction of the wage gap that comes with professional careers. In 2015 less than 1 in every 6 students who enrolled in information technology, engineering and related technologies were female.

CU Boulder and the Gender Gap

In this article from PBS  Angela Bielefeldt, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at CU addresses the oblivious gender gap in her engineering classes. “In civil engineering, it’s really pathetic,” she said. “In environmental engineering, it’s closer to 40 percent. Right off the bat, if you’re a woman, you look around, and there aren’t a lot of women who look like you. Of the 60 to 80 students that take her freshman civil engineering class, only 10 to 12 are generally women.” Furthermore, Professor Bielefeldt talks about her female students self perception, while they have grades and GPA that are just as good, if not better, than their male counterparts, they still believe themselves to be inferior.  “Women tend to leave engineering with higher grade point averages than the men… but they perceive that their technical skills are sometimes different. And they’re not different, in reality.”

Well there are many arguments for why the wage gap exists, they all can be tied back to one common theme, lack of women’s rights. The snowball effect of society’s long held discrimination against women sets them up for a fight right from the start. From the gendering and socialization they experience as adolescents, the gender double standard within their elementary through high school education, the gender gap in areas of study within higher level education, it all leads to where we find ourselves today. With women making 79 cents for every dollar that men earn.

This problem is rooted in patriarchy, and we can not eliminate the gender gap unless we continue to bring attention to it.