5 Ways Women can Rise Up on Equal Pay Day

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Today is Equal Pay Day which symbolize’s how far into the year the average woman has to work just to earn what the average white man earned at the end of the previous year. There is an ugly disparity between how much men and women earn in the U.S., even when working identical jobs. On average, a woman working full time earns 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.

The gap is far wider for women of color as compared to White non Hispanic men and women.

  • Black women working full time, year round typically make only 61 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.

  • For Latinas this figure is only 53 cents, for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women it is 62 cents, and for Native women it is 58 cents.

  • While Asian women working full time, year round are typically paid only 85 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts, the wage gap is substantially larger for some subgroups of Asian women.

This persistent, pervasive wage gap is driven in part by gender and racial discrimination, workplace harassment, job segregation and a lack of workplace policies that support family caregiving, which is still most often performed by women.[1]

The gender wage gap, by contrast, is a broader concept; however as individuals there are ways we can take action to rise up against the unjust disparity that disproportionately affects women.

Understand the Intersectionality of Wage Equality

The gender wage gap affects all women, but as highlighted above, it’s a much steeper climb for African American women & Latina women. For any efforts to be impactful, we all need to better understand, apply and embrace the concept of intersectionality. We as women need to educate ourselves at all economic levels and arm ourselves with valuable information. Any solution that strive to close the wage gap must look beyond a sole focus on gender justice, and should include a push for racial justice.

Show Up For Others

Becoming an ally for another female coworker is a powerful call to action that can improve the experiences of everyone in the workplace. We can level the playing field simply by supporting and advocating for each other. Allies help to create a more inclusive, understanding environment for everyone. For gender parity to succeed, we need allies at every level in the workplace, it doesn’t have to start or end with just having male allies.

Understand Your Rights

There are numerous legal protections designed to provide a level of protection against unfair workplace practices. The Equal Pay Act specifically addresses pay discrimination based on sex. The Equal Pay Act requires that man and women be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment. The jobs do not need to be identical, but they must be substantially equal. It is job content, not job titles, that determines whether jobs are substantially equal. Specifically the EPA provides that employers may not pay unequal wages to men and women who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions within the same establishment. Title VII, ADEA, and ADA prohibit compensation discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability. Most states have laws prohibiting wage discrimination based on sex. To learn more about your legal rights, visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission .

Identify and Articulate Your Value

It is critical to understand and know your worth in order to effectively advocate for yourself. Clearly defining and articulating your value are essential to getting paid for your excellence. It’s a matter of selling your accomplishments. Get in the habit of documenting your accomplishments and successes, particularly in relation to business objectives. To get a figure of your market value use sites like Salary.com and Payscale. Look at title, experience, industry, company size, and geographic location. With that information in hand, combined with your documented accomplishments, you can effectively communicate your worth by pointing out- “The market value of my position right now is X. I am worth that much, and here’s why”.

Pay It Forward

If you’re a women in a management position, be aware of how much influence you have and the power you have to create an environment that promotes balance and progression. Every positive action helps foster an environment in which individuals feel confident that they will have the support they need. 

The gender wage gap is a measure of just how far our nation still has to go to ensure that women can participate fully and equally in our economy. Promoting equal pay and closing the wage gap are both critical priorities; addressing them will boost and strengthen women’s full participation in the workforce.