It’s Equal Pay Day, a day to “celebrate” how women still don’t earn an equal wage to men for the same job. Even if you know a lady or two making bigger bucks than you — yes, the gender wage gap is real. And it sucks.
For American women working full-time year-round:
- All women paid 77 cents for every dollar a man earns
- Black women paid 64 cents for every dollar white men earn
- Latina women paid 55 cents for every dollar white men earn
- Asian women paid 87.6 cents for every dollar white men earn
- Lesbian women paid less than gay men
- Women with disabilities paid 70.8 cents for every dollar white men without disabilities earn
We can never forget how gender, race, ability and class intersect. For Black women, Latina women, and women with disabilities the gender wage gap is even wider. They face a greater uphill battle often and unfairly needing more education and experience in order to compete.
Equal pay for equal jobs…seems like a no-brainer, right? To me it’s common sense that women should receive the same pay men do for the same job. But not everyone shares that view. Republicans blocked the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Yes, we have the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which extends the time limit to challenge pay discrimination in court. But the Paycheck Fairness Act “would give employees the legal tools they need to challenge the wage gap itself.” It would require employers to provide a “business justification” if they pay female and male employees differently, “provide more remedies for wage discrimination and prohibit retaliation against workers who inquire about wages or disclose their own wages to their co-workers.” Both pieces of legislation, working in tandem would work to close the gender wage gap and ensure employees recourse for discrimination.
Bryce Covert at The Nation has some other great remedies to close the gender wage gap including increasing support for childcare, family leave policies, ending salary secrecy, unionization and raising the minimum wage.
So what do these lost wages look like? The gender wage gap causes women to be paid $11,084 less a year. I don’t know about you but I could do A LOT with that chunk of change. I could pay my student loans (I have about $40,000 in loans), pay off some of my debt (which I went into after charging bills on my credit cards when I moved to Boston for grad school). It would provide a fiscal cushion so I’d worry less about paying my bills each month. I could move to a bigger apartment and travel. I could donate to charity — to an abortion fund, domestic violence shelter or animal shelter.
An extra $11,000 — and it’s not really extra as it’s money being stolen from women’s paychecks — would help so many women’s lives.
For those who erroneously think that we don’t need feminism because women are already equal, newsflash, we have a long way to go before we achieve anything close to equality.