March 31st is Equal Pay Day, a day that was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 to raise public awareness of the wage gap between women and men.
Women are paid less than men in nearly every occupation. Although women make up almost half of the workforce and receive more degrees than men, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWP) found that in 2019, women were paid less with an 18.5% wage gap. In 2018, it was cited by the IWP that full-time women workers make 82 cents for every dollar earned by men —but that is only about white, cis-gendered, non-disabled, heterosexual women. Women from other marginalized communities make even less. The issue of unequal pay is an intersectional issue and affects women of all gender identities, sexual orientations, races, religions, immigration statuses, etc.
At the rate that the wage gap is closing, it won’t be until 2049 that women receive equal pay to men , and for women of color, the wait is longer. African American women will have to wait until 2130 to be paid equally and Hispanic women until 2224. Transgender women have higher rates of extreme poverty because of the low rate they are paid to their male counterparts. For women with disabilities, it is legal to pay them less than minimum wage because of their disability due to the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Being a part of a centuries-long fight that is still ongoing is not easy and, at times, can feel overwhelming. But in reality, there are two things we can all do to advocate for equal pay.
1. Educate Yourself
It is essential to know what you’re fighting against and all the inequities that affect unequal pay. There are many websites and organizations such as the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Empower Work, and the National Organization for Women. These and many others have access to information on equity pay.
2. Uplift Women
Women every day are dealing with the impacts of the wage gap, and one thing women can do is stand together and uplift one another as they go through this battle.
The wage gap continues to become narrower with each year, but there is still much work that can and must be done to ensure that one day all women have equal pay.