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On average, women make 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, but the pay gap is substantially larger for women of color. (Photo: Sarah Mirk/cc/flickr)

On average, women make 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, but the pay gap is substantially larger for women of color. (Photo: Sarah Mirk/cc/flickr)

Three Months Late, Women Workers Will Finally Earn Their Share on #EqualPayDay

Campaign calls on men to donate surplus wages to organizations dedicated to fighting for gender equality

Lauren McCauley

Working women on Tuesday, April 4 will finally make as much as their male counterparts did in 2016.

That is the idea behind Equal Pay Day, which women and advocacy groups are observing to shine a spotlight on persistent gender wage disparities in the U.S..

Women earned roughly 83 percent of what men did in 2015, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis published on Monday. "Based on this estimate," Pew notes, "it would take an extra 44 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2015."

While some groups are organizing protests, others will mark the day by taking part in an informational Twitter storm, or by launching programs to empower working women, such as the American Association of University Women, which is encouraging women to sign up for a salary negotiation seminar.

Going a step further, activist Meena Harris and Van Jones' #LoveArmy are together launching a campaign that calls on men to calculate just how much more they get paid and to donate that amount to organizations dedicated to fighting for gender equality, such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL, Girls Who Code, Emerge America, The United State of Women, and Essie Justice Group.

"We're switching up traditional Equal Pay initiatives by asking men to take a step in demonstrating their commitment to achieving gender pay equity and showing their support for women's organizations that are fighting for women's rights every day," said Harris, founder of the Phenomenal Women Action Campaign.

"Women's issues are everyone's issues," she continued. "We know that when women do better, we all do better. By contrast, when women lose wages, it disadvantages individual families, communities, and our entire country. This means that men must be personally invested in these issues too."

Though the pay gap has narrowed over time (decreasing to 17 cents from 36 cents in 1980), it continues to persist largely because women are much more likely to take breaks from their careers to care for their family while they also "continue to be over-represented in lower-paying occupations," according to a 2013 Pew survey. Further, the Pew analysis notes, "[s]ome part of the pay gap may also be due to gender discrimination. In the 2013 survey,  women were about twice as likely as men to say they had been discriminated against at work because of their gender (18 percent vs. 10 percent)."

Whereas the Pew analysis looks at median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time U.S. workers, data collected by the Census Bureau found that full-time, year-round working women only earn 80 percent of what their male counterparts did in 2015.

Looking at the Census Bureau data, the National Women's Law Center further notes that those gaps are even larger for minority women. According to the NWLC, "African American women typically making only 63 cents, Latina women only 54 cents, and Native American women only 58 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. While Asian American women experience a smaller wage gap, they still make only 85 cents for every dollar made by white non-Hispanic men."

(Notably, the gap is "significantly smaller among both white and black unionized workers than their non-union counterparts," according to the Economic Policy Institute).

Highlighting just how substantial this loss is, comedy group Funny Or Die, Hulu, and LeanIn.org collaborated on this video about the wage gap:


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

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