A reminder before you get decked out for work that Tuesday, April 4 is Equal Pay Day 2017. This is the symbolic day when women’s earnings catch up with men’s earnings from the previous year. Some would have the public believe that the wage gap has been closed – these are the people who look at high paid female corporate executives, not at clerical workers or even long-term professional women whose lifetime incomes are affected by a host of obstacles to equal pay.
The early day reminder is that many women will decide to wear red on Equal Pay Day to emphasize how long it takes women to catch up.
It’s also worth remembering that it’s been over a half century since the Equal Pay Act became law. After 54 years’ women now make an average of 82 cents for every dollar a man earns; at this rate, it could take at least 70 more years before the gap closes.
It’s generally assumed that the pay differential results from women’s choices, particularly to interrupt their careers by taking time to rear their families. Still, Olivia Mitchell, director of the pension research council at the Wharton School, avers that this does not recognize other significant contributors including women’s lack of negotiating skills and the bias women face from employers – in other words, the “penalty” of childbirth and rearing are a biased excuse for a discriminatory situation. I agree with Dr. Mitchell’s analysis – and would add a host of other reasonable explanations of what is a thorough explainable – and inexcusable – disputation.
A small sampling of resources for more on Equal Pay Day:
Definitely check the excellent resource guide prepared by the American Association of University Women – a more systemic approach to a systemic problem. http://www.aauw.org/resource/how-to-equal-pay-day/
For the lark of it, see how far you get with Cheryl Sandberg’s 20% counts campaign. https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/04/03/lean-in-sheryl-sandberg-20-percent-counts-campaign-to-close-gender-pay-gap/99841634/
In any event, no matter where you fit into the world of work and pay for work, take time to think about the inequity of unequal pay and the impact of low for women not only on individuals but on families and on the long-term welfare of older women.