Everything You Need to Know About Equal Pay Day
There’s no better day to ask for a raise.
Equal Pay Day is a day we wish didn’t exist at all. Its very existence means that women in this country are still paid less than men for doing the same job, at every level.
So, what actually is Equal Pay Day? Sadly, it isn’t a day we all magically start earning the same wages as our male counterparts. Rather, it’s a symbolic "holiday" that represents how far into the year the average woman must work to earn what the average man earned the previous year.
The exact day differs year by year, but this year, Equal Pay Day falls on March 31. This means that, on average, women in the U.S. earn 82 cents for every dollar that a man earns, according to 2019 U.S. Census data on median earnings for full-time, year-round workers.
Put another way? Women have to work an extra 91 days for free in 2020 to earn what the average man already made in 2019, based on the current wage gap.
But if that doesn't make you mad enough, consider this: Since March 31 is determined based on an average for all U.S. women compared to all U.S. men, your own Equal Pay Day may not happen until much later in the year depending on your race or ethnicity.
The 2020 wage gap for Black women compared to white men is 62 cents, meaning their Equal Pay Day isn't until August 13. For Native American women, who earn 57 cents on the dollar, it's October 1. Latina women fare the worst of any group. On average, they earn 54 cents for every white male dollar, meaning their Equal Pay Day doesn’t happen until October 29 – yep, they must work extra 10 months into the next year to earn what the average white man earned the previous year.
Having a child also widens the gap. U.S. moms make 70 cents on the dollar compared to all U.S. dads, meaning their Equal Pay Day won't happen until June 4.
Even more discouraging is the fact that this wage gap holds true regardless of education level, industry, or experience; for those with bachelor’s and advanced degrees, the gap is the widest, according to a 2018 report from the American Association of University Women. And contrary to the played-out stereotype, women do negotiate and are asking for raises at about the same rates as men, according to the 2019 Women in the Workplace report, a study of the state of women in corporate America from McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org — they're just simply still paid less than men.
While the wage gap is present even for A-list actresses and elite athletes, in recent years, these celebrities have used their voices to speak out about about the urgency of pay equity in every field. Last year, all 28 members of the U.S. women's soccer team filed (on International Women's Day no less) a joint gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer. Actresses are also speaking out about their experiences with the sexist wage gap in Hollywood — and turning down jobs that don't pay them what they're worth.
But how can us non-celebs take action this Equal Pay Day to make sure that the gender pay gap closes in the future? (And by that we mean, closes until the gap doesn't exist at all, and "Equal Pay Day" simply happens on December 31.) Educate yourself, speak with your local legislatures, and bring up the conversation in your own office. After all, there's no better day to ask for a raise.