The Equal Pay Today Campaign is a project of Equal Rights Advocates which is a collaboration of national, regional and state-based women’s legal advocacy and worker justice groups in the US whose mission is to “eradicate the long-standing gender wage gap impacting the economic security of women and families.” How long is long-standing, you ask?
Great question. Is 1967 long-standing? It is to me. I entered the work force that year when the average wage for women was 58 cents for every dollar paid to men. My starting salary at my first job at an international CPA firm in Houston, Texas was $650 per month. I was a cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin business school with an accounting major. I was assigned to the firm’s team in their small business division where I sat in a cubicle next to a guy named John who came into the firm at the same time I did but with average grades. Through a random conversation he let slip that his salary was $950 per month. I calculated my compensation was 68 cents for every dollar John earned. The gender gap slapped me in the face and never stopped slapping me during the next 40 years in every workplace I encountered.
The following image and facts are from the equalpaytoday.org website:
82 cents: that’s how much women in the U.S. who work full time, year round are paid for every dollar paid to men. This year, we’re raising awareness around this pay gap with our theme March Madness: The Pay Gap is Madness.
Women’s Equal Pay Day marks the day into the year on which it takes for women on average to earn what men did in 2020.
That’s 15 months. Or, if you look at a typical 9:00-5:00 work day, women start working for free at 2:40 p.m.
While March 24th is the average for all women, the Equal Pay Day for Black women is August 03rd because they average 63 cents for every dollar paid to men, for Native women equal pay day is September 08th because they earn 60 cents for every dollar paid to men, for Latina it’s October 21st because they earn 55 cents for every dollar paid to men.
In addition to the wage gap inequity, Covid-19 has been particularly devastating for women. According to MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski more than 2.5 million women have fallen out of the workplace in the past year as a result of the pandemic. Newly appointed Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo called the gender disparities “unacceptable and immoral” today in an interview with Ms. Brzezinski. Secretary Raimondo went on to say the Biden administration had acknowledged the needs of women in the American Rescue Plan that includes higher education opportunities for them, assistance with child care which is a huge stumbling block for women who want to work and an overall training up designed especially for women.
March Madness is a reality in our home where we are focused on the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. Our University of South Carolina Gamecock women’s team won their second round game which places them in the Sweet 16 – that’s some kind of fun for us. But March Madness: The Pay Gap is Madness also hits home with Pretty and me, and that’s never been fun.
The gender gap has been alive and well in the 2021 NCAA women’s basketball tournament, too. University of Oregon forward Sedona Prince posted a video showing the women’s weight room consisted of a single set of dumbbells while the men’s weight room was stocked with rows of weights and dumbbells. Her video went viral and had millions of hits. The uproar from players, coaches, fans and colleges around the country produced an apology from the NCAA…and a speedy delivery for a state of the art weight room for the female athletes.
What do we want? Fair pay. (and comparable accommodations for women in sport)
When do we want it? Now.
For everything there is a season, the Bible says, and a time for every purpose unto heaven. I think the pandemic has shined a light on a season whose time has past. Let’s get it right.
Stay safe, stay sane, get vaccinated and please stay tuned.