What is Equal Pay Day?
According to the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE), Equal Pay Day “symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.” This year, Equal Pay Day lands on March 14, 2023. Think of it this way: if the average man earned $50,000 working from January 1, 2022 until December 31, 2022, the average woman in the same position and field of work must work from January 1, 2022 until March 14, 2023 to earn that same amount. That’s quite an alarming disparity!
Equal Pay Day was started by the NCPE in 1996 to raise awareness about the gender wage gap. Among full time workers, women are paid 84% of every dollar men make and among all workers, including part-time and seasonal workers, that number falls to 77%. This gap widens variably when considering factors such as race, ethnicity, and whether or not the woman is a mother.
Because the pay gap varies significantly among different communities, particularly for women of color, other Equal Pay Days have been added to the calendar over the years to reflect the fact that many women, across all age groups, must work far longer into the year to catch up to men.
The Data Behind The Wage Gap
Controlling for factors such as education, experience, and job duties, research demonstrates that on average women earn less than men for the same work in almost every country and occupation.
Wage disparities are exacerbated by institutionalized and systemic biases against marginalized groups. Other Equal Pay Days throughout the year include:
- Black Women’s Equal Pay Day: July 27, 2023 – Black women working full-time, year-round are paid 67 cents and all earners (including part-time and seasonal) are paid 64 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic white men.
- Moms’ Equal Pay Day: August 15, 2023. Moms working full-time, year-round are paid 74 cents and all earners are paid 62 cents for every dollar paid to dads.
- Latina’s Equal Pay Day: October 5, 2023. Latinas women working full-time, year-round are paid 57 cents and all earners (including part-time and seasonal) are paid 54 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic white men.
- Native Women’s Equal Pay Day: November 30, 2023. Native women working full-time, year-round are paid 57 cents and all earners (including part-time and seasonal) are paid 51 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic white men.
- Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Women’s Equal Pay Day: is not yet determined. However, numbers show that Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women working full-time, year-round are paid 92 cents and all earners (including part-time and seasonal) are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic white men.
- LGBTQIA+ Equal Pay Awareness Day: June 15 – there isn’t enough data to reliably make calculations, but the date falls halfway through Pride Month.
The Motherhood Penalty
The “motherhood penalty” is a term used to illustrate the negative impact that becoming a mom can have on a woman’s career advancement and earnings. Mothers are less likely to be hired compared to women who don’t have kids. When they are hired, mothers often receive a lower salary offer than women without kids. Men do not face this same challenge. This is in spite of the fact that as of 2017, 41 percent of mothers were the sole or primary breadwinners for their families, earning at least half of their total household income. (CAP).
Women in the United States spend 37 percent more time on household and care work than their male counterparts. For Black and Latina women, that number is significantly higher, with these demographics spending about twice as much time on unpaid household and care work as their male counterparts.(Holding Up Half the Sky). In 2022 all women, moms or not, were 5-8x more likely to see caregiving negatively impact their employment and salary growth which restricts their career choices and economic mobility.
The motherhood penalty not only affects women’s earning potential and career prospects but also has broader implications for gender equality, as it perpetuates the stereotype that caregiving is primarily a woman’s responsibility and reinforces traditional gender roles in the workplace and at home.
What we can do about it
Change is slow, but each year we learn more about how we can close the gender gap for good. There are countless leading industry women inspiring us every day Here are a few things that have been done, or can be done, to make progress towards pay equality:
- Annual pay analysis – highlight previously unidentified pay gaps.
- Pay disclosure laws – Only eight US states have a pay transparency law, but all employers can support equal pay by posting salary ranges in their job descriptions.
- Bans on salary history – Ban employers from asking applicants about prior compensation. Currently 21 states have passed these laws
- Pay reporting requirements – Requires employers to submit salary data with demographic information. Currently, required in California and Illinois.
- Address unconscious bias – This unfair perception (UBuffalo) needs to be mitigated in a number of ways:
- DEI training with a focus on implicit bias.
- Consistent and structured hiring processes with an emphasis on competency evaluations.
- Interviewer and interviewee training on what questions are legally allowed (and which are not) during an interview.
- Diverse hiring teams.
- Work life balance – Employers should embrace a workplace culture that values work-life balance. Healthy work expectations allow for all team members to foster sustainable relationships with work without penalizing caregivers, who are often women.
- Compensation practices – Employers should be transparent about their leveling as employees move into more senior roles.
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