Today is Equal Pay Day – also known as the day that marks how far that women have to work into the following year in order to earn what men earned in the previous year. Today brings attention to the fact that, on average, white women have to work 99 additional days into 2018 to earn what white men did in 2017.
If you think that is distressing, equal pay day for women of color comes along much later in the year. In other words, the wage disparity between women of color and white men is far worse. Black women have to work until August 17, 2018, an additional 229 days. Native American women have to work until September 27, 2018, an additional 270 days. Latina women have to work until November 1, 2018, an additional 305 days.
Days like today are a necessary reminder that despite advances made in recent years, women still face systemic barriers to gender equality created by sexism. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 made it illegal to pay men and women different salaries for similar work and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal to discriminate in the workplace based on sex. Yet, it is 2018 and the gender wage gap still exists – and, at this pace, pay inequality is projected to remain until 2059.
Research shows that many factors contribute to the gender wage gap, but the act of having children is found to account for much of the persistent divide. While earnings appear to be similar between men and women right out of college, research shows that the birth of a child – or the time in a woman’s life when she is most likely to have children – is really when the gender wage gap grows. Children require a lot of time, especially early in life, and mothers spend disproportionately more time than fathers on child care and related responsibilities.
Women are more likely to reduce their work hours, take time off, turn down a promotion or quit their jobs to care for their family. Even when both parents work full time, women spend nearly double the time on housework and child care. Furthermore, when women work fewer hours, they are paid disproportionately less and become less likely to earn raises or promotions.
There are many steps we can take to help close the divide, including programs to support women re-enter the labor force after starting or continuing a family, flexibility in when and where they are able to work, and subsidized child care. It is also critical that men take time off after children are born to help level the playing field in the workplace and spend more time on responsibilities related to child care.
Join GELC in the fight to close the gap! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Use these hashtags on social media: #geteven #womendeservemore #closethegap #equalpaynow #equalworkequalpay and consider making a donation to support our work to close the wage gap!