Why is Equal Pay Day Still A Thing?

By Marissa Luna

Today is Equal Pay Day, marking how far into 2015 white and Asian American women must work to earn what white men did in 2014. African American women must work until July and Latina women must work until October to earn what white non-Hispanic men earned last year.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of watching Equal Pay Days pass by year after year and still women are being paid less than men for the same work. In case you haven’t seen the numbers – on average, white women are paid 78 cents, African American women are paid 64 cents, and Latinas are paid just 56 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.

These numbers are not based on personal choices, so don’t tell women to go get different jobs or get higher degrees of education. In industries and occupations with the most people working full time, year round – whether it be health care, education, sales, or management – women are paid less than men. Women with master’s degrees working full time, year round are paid less than men with master’s degrees. Even women with doctoral degrees are paid less than men with master’s degrees.

Women are paid less than men because of discriminatory, sexist employers. In fact, employers have argued that unequal pay is justified for a limitless number of reasons, including reasons that are not related to any legitimate economic interests and may actually perpetuate sex stereotyping and other discrimination.

How many blogs are we going to write before equal pay for equal work becomes a reality for all women in this country? The answer should be zero.

That’s because we can do something about it.

We can eliminate barriers that women face in entering or staying in “nontraditional” and higher-paying industries like science, technology, engineering, math, construction, and manufacturing. Stereotypes, gender bias, discrimination, harassment, and a lack of female mentors often dissuade women from entering or staying in these fields.

We can create workplaces that are more supportive of working women’s – and men’s – family responsibilities by ensuring that all workers have access to paid family and medical leave, earned sick leave, and better access to childcare.

And Congress can help ensure fair, nondiscriminatory treatment at work by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Act would protect workers against sex-based pay discrimination, reward employers that have good pay practices, help train women and girls in salary negotiation, and protect workers who share their pay information with co-workers from retaliation by their employers.

Together we can make this Equal Pay Day the last Equal Pay Day.