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Equal Pay Day

April 9, 2013

Are you wearing red today?

You should be.  April 9th marks the last day of the year that the average American woman is in the red.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t worry – you’re not alone.  And, I will happily explain.  Read on.

50 years ago this June, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law.  Yet, nationally, the average American woman makes just 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.  So, on April 9, women will finally catch up in wages to how much a man in the same position made in the previous calendar year.  Of course, that average man has now continued to earn a higher wage for more than three months… And so the wage gap continues.

Here in New York, the wage gap is a bit smaller.  The average New York woman earns 84 cents for every dollar a man makes.  If you look at women of color, compared to a white man, the gap is shockingly large: even here in New York, Latina women earn as little as 55 cents for every dollar earned by the average white man.  Yes, 55 cents.  Nearly half as much pay.

Nationally, over a year, the average woman loses $11,000.  Yes, $11,000 every year.  I could buy a decent car for that much money.  What would you do with your lost wages?  Tell us in comments.

Pay equity is a complex issue.  There are all kinds of factors to control for: education, experience, industry, etc.  But still, no matter how many variables the best social and economic scientists control for, when you get right down to it – people pay women less than they pay men.  It’s illegal.  But it happens every day.

And there’s so much we can do about it:  First of all, talk.  Much like the GYT campaign – also going on right now – and abortion, we often choose not to discuss thorny issues.  If you put on a bright red shirt today, use it as a way to get the discussion started.  If someone comments on your shirt, let them know why you’re wearing it.  You don’t need to jump right into how you much personally make and ask the man in the next cubicle how much he makes, in fact under current law there may be some negative repercussions if you do.  But let people know that the gender wage gap exists.

Tell people there are ways they can take action.  Here in New York, letting your State Legislators know that you support the Women’s Equality Agenda is a great step to take.  The 10-point agenda includes important provisions around transparency and non-retaliation on the issue of pay equity.  Learn more.

There’s even an app to advance equal pay!  Let’s jump forward this year – start the conversation and send an email to your legislator, today. 

One Comment leave one →
  1. Sammy permalink
    April 9, 2013 8:39 pm

    Oh man! I could pay off my student loans with that extra $11k!

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