(Not So) Happy Equal Pay Day of 2017

 

Usually held on the first Tuesday of April, Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into the year and week a woman must work to earn what a man earned in the previous year. This isn’t the same day for every woman.  

For example, in 2016

4/12 was the Equal Pay Day for White Women.

8/23 was the Equal Pay Day for African American Women.

9/13 was the Equal Pay Day for Native American Women. 

11/1 was the Equal Pay day for Latinas.

 

According to the World Econoimc Forum, the U.S. is ranked #45 in the Global Gender Gap Report. The way that racial justice, feminism, and economics intersect is no coincidence. Equal pay benefits individual women of all different socioeconomic classes, as well as the economic markets and family standards of living, which would also drastically improve. 

What Executive order did Donald Trump sign on March 27th, a week before Equal Pay Day? An order revoking The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order, enacted by President Obama in 2014, which required companies under government contracts to provide paychecks with details such as hours, overtime hours, rates, additions, and deductions to ensure full transparency.

This order also prohibited arbitration without the consent of both parties in the event of sexual assault or harassment accusations. Arbitration is a tactic companies use to deter the victim from going to court to avoid massive legal bills and avoid shedding a public eye to internal matters.

The infamous sexual harassment case against Roger Ailes of Fox News would not have gone public if reporter Gretchen Carlson did not break the mandatory arbitration policy within her workplace. In many cases, arbitrations are kept secret and are used to hide sexual harassment claims and silence the victim.

 

Asian American women make 90% of what men make.

White women make 82% of what men make.

African American women make 68% of what men make. 

American Indian/Alaska Native women make 59% of what men make.

Hispanic/Latina women make 62% of what men make.

Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research

 

Differences in education, labor force experience, occupation or industry, and other factors explain the reason for some of these gaps. However, even with these variables held constant, white men out-earn all other genders and races except for Asian men. Besides gender discrimination in the workplace, a big reason the wage gap persists is segregation by occupation, in which women tend to be overrepresented in certain areas. We see the number of women in industries like engineering and computing growing, but these women are still earning less than their male coworkers.

On a policy level, we can advocate to elected officials to show that their constituents care about the gender wage gap, and that legislation to ensure equal pay for equal work is important. A simple e-mail, phone call, or letter is a great and easy way to get in touch with your representatives.

On a personal level, women need to start asking for more. Women are 30% less likely to negotiate their salary. Why? Not only are women not being valued for their work and talents, but we ourselves systematically undermine what we believe we can achieve and what we believe we deserve.

It is time to start demanding transparency in companies and to start demanding the salary and benefits we deserve as working women. Estimates say it will take 169 years for the world to completely close the economic gender gap. We’ve got some work to do.