Today marks how far into the current year women in the United States must work additionally in order to earn what their male counterparts were paid the year before.
The occasion, Equal Pay Day, brings attention to the gender pay gap that has persisted in the U.S. since women entered the workforce. Efforts by the American Association of University Women to repeal salary restrictions in the Women’s Bureau, for example, date back to as early 1922.
This year, women’s losses translate to a yearly pay difference of $10,169, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families, which also estimates that women employed full time in the United States will lose nearly $900 billion to the wage gap this year.
The disturbing statistics come at a time when the #MeToo movement has emboldened more women to speak up about instances of mistreatment at work and the country has elected its most diverse, female Congress in history, the National Partnership pointed out — noting that despite some advancements, much work remains.
The date on which the occasions lands — it fell on April 10 in 2018 and on April 4 the year before that — has crept backward and forward only slightly in recent years to show modest signs of both progress and regression. Overall, though, according to the AAUW, the gender pay gap shrank most significantly between 1980 and 2000 to reflect changing attitudes and the sheer number of women entering the workforce. Since then, the gap has mostly stalled — closing by less than a nickel. Despite this year’s small improvement — which sees women generally needing to work about one week less than they did the year before to reach pay equity — the discrepancy still translates to an average earnings of 20 percent less per year for women, compared with the income of men — or about 80 cents for women to a man’s dollar.
“The wage gap harms women’s ability to support ourselves and our families,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership. “Lack of fair pay cuts across all types of jobs and industries, from retail and service workers to doctors, entertainers and athletes. The wage gap does not have a single cause and therefore demands more than a single solution.”
Still, last week’s passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act in the U.S. House of Representatives is a reassuring step, noted Ness, adding that lawmakers still “must do more.”
While today’s date represents Equal Pay Day for all women in the U.S., for black and Latina women, the number of months they must theoretically work to reach pay equity with their male counterparts is much further into the year.
Equal Pay Day for black women lands on Aug. 22 this year — that’s 15 days later than the occasion fell in 2018. What’s more, it is estimated that this group earns just 61 cents to every dollar earned by white men.
Latina women, meanwhile, must work until Nov. 20 this year to catch up to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts earned last year. That date is also 19 days later than 2018’s Equal Pay Day for Latina women, who are estimated to make about 53 cents to every dollar earned by white non-Hispanic men.
Beyond the obvious inequality, with a rising number of women becoming the main breadwinners of their households, these harrowing statistics are significant because the implications of children and families living on lower incomes are wide-ranging.
According to research from the Office of Policy Development and Research and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, low-income people as well as racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by violent crimes. Meanwhile, factors such as viable job opportunities (think: livable wages) are associated with lower crime rates.
With more than half of Latina mothers and more than 80 percent of black mothers serving as the key breadwinners for their families, according to the National Partnership, closing the wage gap could have powerful positive effects on thousands of American families.
Watch FN’s video on how to succeed as a woman in the shoe industry below.