Despite women being a formidable voting bloc in the 2012 presidential election, pay equity policies have yet to reflect the influence women have gained. Today, women earn just under 80 cents on the dollar when compared to men, a gap that eventually causes a loss of about $380,000 over a woman’s career.
This year’s upcoming Equal Pay Day is Tuesday, April 9th, a date that signifies how far into 2013 women must work to earn the same amount men earned in 2012. Equal Pay Day was started by the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996 to bring awareness to the gender wage gap. Because women on average make less money than men, they have to work that much longer to get the same amount of wages. And it almost goes without saying that this wage gap is more blatant for most women of color: The earnings of black women were 67.5 percent of men’s earnings, Latinas’ earnings were 57.7 percent. Asian American women faired better: Their earnings were at 90 percent of men’s.
The American Association of University Women, which recently released a compelling wage gap analysis that showed men and women in the same field are earning disparate salaries only a year out of college, is marking the occasion by pressuring the Obama administration to take action.
One action that can help to close the pay gap is Congress passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, an expansion of the 1963 Equal Pay Act that will protect employees from retaliation for calling out their bosses for unfair wage practices and will institute more stringent deterrents to wage discrimination. When President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act 50 years ago, women earned 59 cents to every dollar a man earned, and progress has been slow. While women comprise nearly half of today’s workers, and their wages play a significant role in the financial stability of their households, they still typically earn less than men for the same work.
So wear red this Tuesday to symbolize how much women and minorities are “in the red” when it comes to being paid fairly, and let us continue to push forth in the fight for wage equality.