Tuesday, April 22, 2008

National Equal Pay Day

I missed the boat on Blog for Fair Pay Day but today is actually National Equal Pay Day 2008! Thanks to Maggie for informing me of today and for helping with the wonderful events Stony Brook Career Center organized today to raise awareness at their university.

Some Facts:

  • Women working full-time, year-round earn only about 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, virtually the same amount women earned in 2005. In 2006, the median annual earnings of women ages 15 and older working full-time, year-round were $32,515, compared to $42,261 for their male counterparts. Via US Census
  • African American woman earned just 63 cents for every dollar earned by a white, non-Hispanic man, while a Hispanic woman earned only 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white, non-Hispanic male counterpart. Also via US Census
  • There is not a single state in which women have gained economic equality with men. Via
  • As of 2006, Washington, D.C. was the area with the smallest wage gap, at 98%, whereas Louisiana had the widest gap, with women making about 66% of what men earned. Via
  • As women get older, the wage gap for them widens. When women start their careers, the pay gap is relatively small: females aged 15 to 24 working full-time, year-round have median annual earnings that are 94% of what their male counterparts earn. However, by the time they reach the critical years leading up to retirement, that 6% pay gap has increased almost five times: women aged 45 to 64 who work full-time, year-round earn only 71% of what men do. Via

Breakdown of what this all means:

Women in the United States are still paid only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. Minority women have it far worse. African American women earn 63 cents and Latinas earn 52 cents for every dollar paid to white men.

Female Impersonator wrote a wonderful post on this a few days back to help illustrate the point.

Also, in looking up stuff for today, it took me a while to figure out whether this was for real or a joke. I wish it was for real...

What can YOU do on Equal Pay Day? Here's where you can start:

  • Support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
  • Educate yourself and others (pdf)
  • Start talking about how much you're getting paid. I realize talk of wages is usually off limits, even in conversations among friends, but this is a contributing reason the wage gap continues to go unnoticed.


Jay P. said...

So it's 5:30am and I should be studying for my exam I have later today, but instead I'm catching up on your blog. :) Now I'm totally for equality of pay, how could anyone not be? But here's an important piece to consider, why is the pay gap existant? Where are the comparisons for men and women in the same line of work and do those pay scales differ? Do they even differ? I think the closest piece relevent to that question is where it is stated that younger women first going into the work force have a relatively smaller gap, if any at all. There is a much higher number of college educated women entering the workforce in positions equal to men than there used to be. The data presented spans across all age groups, which is great for making a point, but is it really accurate? What I mean by that is to say that as women get older the pay gap increases may not necessarily be true. I have not looked at the Census studies you presented but were older women followed from the time they began working? I doubt it since the Census simply polls, thus I believe that the information comes from present day salaries only, therefore the older women in question likely had their entrance into the workforce when being college educated and seeking jobs equal to men was not as common place as it may be now, so that the jobs they are working are not equal to the men they are being compared to, nor are they equal to the younger women they are being compared to. Anyway, just wanted to present another way of looking at the information. Not sure if my statements make a whole lot of sense, but at this time of the morning it's the best I can do! :)

La Pobre Habladora said...

"Where are the comparisons for men and women in the same line of work and do those pay scales differ?"

From what I understand, there have been comparisons, and their pay is different. For example:
"An earnings gap exists between women and men across a wide spectrum of occupations. In 2006, for example, the median weekly wages earned by women physicians were just 72% of the median weekly wages of male physicians. Women in sales and sales-related occupations earned only about 64% of the median weekly wages of men in equivalent positions...The earnings gap between women and men also persists across all educational levels... If women in the workforce earned the same amounts as men who work the same number of hours, have the same education, age, and union status and live in the same region of the country, their annual family income would rise by about $4,000 and their poverty rates would be cut by half or more."

You might ask how this continues to happen, and FeministGal is right that it persists in part due to our unwillingness to talk about what we earn. When you do start talking though, disparities often show up in surprising places. A friend of mine got hired as a laboratory technician some years ago, and with time gained the responsibilities of a lab manager. Sure, she got a raise, but not in keeping with the male lab managers' salaries and her title still remained "technician," despite her increased irresponsibles. Since she has a PhD, she also does research - but she does not get paid as a researcher. Yeah, she is considering quiting, but the disparities built up over time - and since people don't talk about what they earn, she long assumed that she was making more money than the less experienced males without PhDs and fewer responsibilities. She was wrong.

FeministGal said...

Thanks La Pobre Habladora, you said that much better than i was going to :)

Jay P. said...

La Pobre Habladora,

Thank you for answering my question. Though I personally tend to be weary of statistics in generally because interpretation of them can often be skewed in any way that benefits an interested party, it is undeniable that there often are pay inequalities (whether it be between blacks and whites, men and women, immigrants or natives, etc.) and information such as what you provided I feel is important to making a valid argument.

Smirking Cat said...

I was just about to say "stop denying the wage gap exists" before I even read the comments. I have actually asked employers what males in similiar positions, with similiar experience, are making compared to me. Silence is the biggest friend of perpetuating a problem.