Today, Tuesday April 8, 2014 is Equal Pay Day. Observed since 1996, Equal Pay Day is dedicated to raising awareness on the staggering gap between men’s and women’s wages. A woman must work from January 1, 2013 until today, April 8, 2014, to make the same amount of money her male counterpart did in 2013. This disparity affects not only women but society as a whole.
According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median earnings for U.S. women working full time, year-round were just 77% of U.S. men’s median earnings – a gap of 23%. This means that on average, a woman working full time is paid $11,608 less per year in median earnings. A woman would have to work more than twelve years longer to make up this gap. The wage gap is even wider for women of color. Black and Hispanic women receive 64 cents and 54 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to a white male.
In her latest report, former California first lady Maria Shriver and her research associates offer a look at the status of women in this country, especially as it pertains to wages, child care and economic stability. The report found that if women received equal pay to their male counterparts, the U.S. economy would produce $447.6 billion in additional income. Where’s the common sense in not making that a reality?
And as much as we’d like to think that higher education can level the playing field, it doesn’t.
The report says: “According to a recent study by the American Association of University Women, one year after graduation, college-educated women earn an average of about 7 percent less than men, even when both went to the same kind of school, studied the same major, and now work full time, the same number of hours per week, in the same kind of job.”
So what can we do?
Start a conversation. Today at the YWCA, members of the staff are wearing red to start the conversation. If women are going to be “in the red,” we might as well wear it proudly to show our determination to end the wage gap. By starting the conversation with your friends, colleagues and family, you can help educate others on the wide reaching effects of this disparity.
Make your voice heard with your vote. Women make up the majority of American voters. We do have a voice and we can make a difference. Minnesota voter registration can be found here. North Dakota is the only state without voter registration.
Voice your opinion with your money and where you spend it. Women also make the majority of economic decisions as consumers in our country.
Speak up! If you are a woman in management, you are in a position to advocate for all women. Engage men who “get it” as allies. And if you’re a man who agrees, share your opinions and this information. We may be talking about your wife, your daughters, your sisters … maybe your mother.
As Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of LeanIn.org, says: “Women deserve better – and must demand better – so that the benefits of achieving equality can be felt by all. When women thrive, our nation thrives.”