Every year the National Committee on Pay Equity holds Equal Pay Day, a day designed to bring awareness to the pay gap between the average man and the average woman. The day is essentially a symbolic representation of the amount of extra time the average female must work into the following year to make the same amount a typical male employee does in a single year.
For example, in 2015, Equal Pay Day took place on the 14th of April. To earn the same wage the average man did in 2014, females were required to work all of 2014 plus three and a half months into 2015.
According to a recent study released by the Economic Policy Institute, in nearly every aspect of the economy women can expect to make a smaller annual salary than men. However, this effect is largely exaggerated as the pay scale increases. In the 95th percentile of rate of income, the average female employee only earned 79 percent of what her male counterparts made whereas in the 10th percentile women make 91 percent of male salaries.
The study continues by explaining that part of the reason for the large discrepancy between income percentiles has to do with the standardization of minimum wages. The wage floor applies to everyone, meaning, minimum wage workers are more likely to experience equal rates because nobody is making much.
However, it is also noted that the majority of low income workers are women. A study completed by the National Women’s Law Center found that 76 percent of employees making less than $10.10 per hour were female. The entire workforce is 47 percent female – indicating a large discrepancy.
Making a Difference
Addressing wage gaps between men and women is certainly an issue worthy of some recognition. One way in which to do this is through social media, which has been a new, pivotal development in organizing movements to address controversial issues such as protesting in Ukraine or promoting sustainable practices.
There are a number of different Twitter hashtags associated with gender equality that can be used to promote the equalization of wages among men and women. For instance, #GeenaOnGender promotes the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which works to improve the gender balance and female character diversity in entertainment programing targeted at children under 11. #ALLINFORHER is another equality-based outlet that organizes and promotes the education and advancement of women and girls.
Becoming politically active is another way to make a significant difference in women’s equal pay rates. Furthermore, it is an issue that President Obama has taken seriously enough to implement policies, such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, designed to address unequal pay. The act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by enabling employees to file complaints related to discriminatory pay for up to 180 days after an unfair amount of compensation is issued.
The problem of unequal pay rates between men and women is an issue that impacts all of us. Participating in small ways such as social media, or larger ways such as political activism can make a huge difference in advancement of women’s rights issues.