Today is Equal Pay Day, the day that marks the wage gap – the number of days into the year women have to work, in addition to last year, to earn the same amount of money men made last year alone. The wage gap is currently at 77% for Caucasian women. That means for every $1 a Caucasian man earns for full-time year-round work, a Caucasian woman makes .77 for full-time year-round work, with African-American women making only 62 cents, and Latinas only 53 cents. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism has a FAQs section on Equal Pay Day for additional reading.
But why does this wage gap still exist?
The Ms. blog covered one explanation:
“One major reason is job segregation by sex. Jobs themselves are gendered, such that women have a tendency to enter feminized occupations and men have a tendency to enter masculinized occupations. How severe is job segregation by sex? In 2010, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reported that about about 4 in 10 women work in jobs that are 75 percent female; the reverse is true for men.”
The above chart illustrates the occupational segregation in the U.S. since 1972. Although we see a dip in the 1970s and 80s, the lines appear to not be changing much since the early to mid 90s.
But the Institute for Women’s Policy Research has the following to note:
“Women’s earnings and employment by industry, 2009 (Bureau of Labor Statistics), shows women’s earnings broken down by occupation. This chart underscores the fact that, even in industries where women are well-represented in the workforce, a gender wage gap still exists. For example, more women are employed in “education & health services” than in any other category included in the chart, yet women in this industry still only earn 77 percent of what their male counterparts earn.”
They also project that wage equity won’t be achieved until 2056.
So we still have a long way to go. What can you do about it? Well, you may have already heard that there will be rally today at Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago. You can also call your state and U.S. representatives – Momsrising.org has a form here to contact your U.S. Senators about supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Or, you can form a dancing flash mob like these women did for equal pay!