Equal Pay Day draws attention to the gender wage gap

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For the first time in history, Equal Pay Day was on March 15, 2022 — the earliest into the year it has ever been.

Equal Pay Day is a recognition of the extra days women must work in order to equate to the average annual pay of men in the previous year. It has been celebrated in the United States for over 25 years.

The dedicated day was created by the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996. Through Equal Pay Day, the committee hopes to spread awareness of the gendered wage gap between women and men, according to their website.

On average, in 2020, women working full-time earned 85 cents for every dollar men earned.

National Committee on Pay Equity website says, “Because women earn less, on average than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay.”

Though this year’s early recognition of Equal Pay Day proves the decrease in gender discrepancy in average monetary earnings, according to President Biden’s Proclamation on National Equal Pay Day. The statement says women of color face a greater consequence of wage differences.

“The disparities are even greater for Black, Native American, Latina and certain subpopulations of Asian women when compared to white men,” Biden said in the Equal Pay Day statement.

The graph displays statistics provided by the American Association of University Women on the gender wage gap between different races. (Made in Canva by Alicia Gerardo)

According to the American Association of University Women, due to the large variation in the wage gap in diverse female communities, separate Equal Pay Days are celebrated for different race groups.

The 2022 Equal Pay Day for Asian American and Pacific Islander women is on May 3, and the Equal Pay Day for Latina women is later in the year on Dec. 8.

The U.S. Department of Labor stated in their report on occupational segregation: “This unequal burden on women – especially on women of color – reflects the distance that remains before we achieve an inclusive economy with good jobs for everyone.”

Political science major Mariana Souza is a part of the Global Women’s Studies Honors Society. Souza said she has seen the effects of the wage gap within her personal life.

According to Souza, her mother, Maria Aparecida, fell victim to the gendered wage gap a few years ago. Aparecida became aware when comparing her salary to a male coworker’s. He was receiving a higher salary despite having similar qualifications and backgrounds.

“My mom had to step up for herself and eventually she got the salary she deserved,” Souza said.

The reality of the gendered wage gap is prevalent throughout the U.S. The recognition of Equal Pay Day serves as an annual reminder of the disparity and holds the purpose of changing the unequal pay of women, Biden said in the statement.

“The founding promise of our nation is that all people are created equal — and my administration is committed to ensuring that all Americans have a fair and equal opportunity to get ahead, so that one day soon we can render Equal Pay Day a relic of the past,” Biden said in his statement.

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