It’s 2018, and women in America still have to work until Tuesday to earn what men earned by Friday of the previous week. If you’re a woman you should be outraged. And if you’re a man, you should also be outraged.
Today, April 10, is Equal Pay Day. I support Equal Pay Day, and the efforts of the National Committee on Pay Equity. Note that I don’t “celebrate” Equal Pay Day. That’s because, unfortunately, there’s not much to celebrate.
When the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, women earned 59 cents on average for every dollar earned by men. According to a 2003 report, the US General Accounting Office noted a 20% gap in earnings between women and men that couldn’t be explained by demographic and work-related factors. It was simply a matter of discrimination. By 2012, the wage gap had narrowed to 77 cents for every dollar, but as of 2016, women still earn just 80% of what men earn for the same job. This most recent narrowing of the gap seems to be due to a decline in men’s earnings following last decade’s recession, not improved pay for women.
Between 1963 and 2012, it took 49 years for the wage gap to narrow by just 18 cents. That’s less than half a cent a year. And while it sounds like pennies, the gap adds up. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, that 23-cent wage disparity cost the average American family about $700,000 to $2 million.
Men, you’re a part of that family.
But it gets worse. While the wage gap is a problem for all women, it’s an even bigger problem for women of color. In 2016 the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reported that based on wage gap improvement trends over the past 30 years, while White women still have to wait 43 more years to achieve pay equity to men, Black women will have to wait 108 years and Hispanic women will have to wait 232 years. Not only is it unfathomable, it’s unconscionable.
We need more voices to raise the roof, more voices to lift the bar, more voices to make a difference. I’ve been writing and speaking about pay equity for many years. Why do I care? Because I have a mother, a wife, 2 daughters, and many dear friends and colleagues who are women. Because more than half the world’s population is women. But mostly because it’s simply not right.
Fortunately, years of AMWA salary surveys indicate the wage gap is narrowing much faster among medical communicators compared to the national average. I promise to keep writing and talking about it until the wage gap is gone, and to continue helping freelances of all sexes charge appropriately for their services. I urge everyone who takes the time to read this to post something on social media. How about “Its #equalpayday and it’s time for the wage gap to go!”
And ladies, here's a coupon from the NCPE that you can't use but shouldn't even need!