How would you feel about having the same job, responsibilities, expertise and experience as the person next to you, but working for free several weeks out of the year?
That’s essentially what the pay disparity between women and men amounts to.
Equal Pay Day is April 10, 2018. The typical woman must work to this date in order to make what the typical man made in 2017.
Women make on average 80 cents for every dollar men make, according to the most recent U.S. Census data. The Equal Pay Coalition calls on everyone who believes this is just plain wrong to speak up. Participate in a social media storm at 2 P.M. Eastern Time on the 10th, using the hash tags #equalpayday, #talkpay and #time4transparency.
You can also ask the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to require large corporations to report pay data by race, gender and job category. Last summer, the Trump Administration blocked this data collection. But information will shed more light on the problem and enable us to fix it. There is still time to sign the petition, which is available in English and in Spanish.
The pay gap translates into a loss of more than $10,000 in median earnings every year, the National Women’s Law Center estimates—or $418,800 over a 40-year career.
For most women of color, the disparity is even worse. African American women earn 63 cents on the dollar compared to white men; their “Equal Pay Day” is August 7. For Native American women, who earn 57 cents on the dollar, it is September 27. For Latinas, who earn 54 cents on the dollar, it is November 1.
The lifetime earnings differential for African American women, Native American women, and Latinas, respectively, is $840,040, $934,240, and over $1 million. Women at all education levels experience this gap. In fact, straight out of college, women make about $3 less per hour than men, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
The pay disparity tells women that their labor is worth less than men’s labor. For educators, that is heresy. We believe in the potential of all students, and we strive to inspire boys and girls, women and men, to follow their hearts and dreams.
How can we change the status quo? The NEA supports more data collection by the EEOC and passage of the federal Paycheck Fairness Act and local and state bills that close the pay gap. We also call on more employers to post salary ranges, limit the use of prior salary in setting salaries, conduct pay audits, and protect employees who discuss pay at work.
As a union of educators—the majority of whom are women—we believe all working people must have the right to bargain collectively. Protecting this right is especially crucial now, in light of a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Janus v. AFSCME, that threatens to take away this right.
The bottom line, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, is this: “If the earnings of women and men who are employed full-time, year-round change at the rate they have been…the gender wage gap in the United States will not close until 2059.”
That’s a long time to wait for the fairness that girls and women deserve. To see where pay equity stands in your state, check out this chart. Read about the status of pay equity laws in the states here, and find out about the latest state victories in the march toward pay equity here.