April 10th, 2018 has been designated Equal Pay Day this year because it marks the approximate date that the average woman must work in order to earn as much as the average white male worker earned by December 31st, 2017.
On average, women currently earn 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. This disparity affects women in nearly every occupation, even more severely affecting women of color across different industries. The wage gap has barely moved in the past decade — despite the fact that women are obtaining undergraduate and graduate degrees at higher rates than men.
These statistics are infuriating and disheartening, but let’s not spend April 10th in despair.
Instead, we can “celebrate” Equal Pay Day by taking action and raising awareness about this issue.
After all, if there’s one thing women excel at, it’s getting things done. Here are seven actions to take in recognition of Equal Pay Day.
1Host a bake sale or happy hour that highlights income inequality
Not only does everyone love a sweet treat or a drink, but social events like a bake sale or a happy hour lend themselves well to starting important conversations about the wage gap with men and women in our social circles and workplaces. At these events, arrange for men to pay full price for their food and drinks while women receive a 20 percent discount. In a happy hour or restaurant setting, it’s up to the guys to pay the difference.
2Write a letter to the editor of your local paper
Your local newspaper may not have plans to cover Equal Pay Day, but you can change that by submitting a letter to the editor that outlines why this is such an important day to recognize. Although you certainly shouldn’t be afraid to share your own story and anecdotes, make sure to include statistics and data about the wage gap. The American Association of University Women has an accessible, thorough report of the key statistics that you’ll want to cite.
3Find out if your elected representatives support the Paycheck Fairness Act
The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963 and it hasn’t been updated since. The Paycheck Fairness Act was first introduced in the senate in 1997 and it has been reintroduced many times since. The proposed legislation is essentially an extension of The Equal Pay Act and it puts pressure on employers to actually follow the law. Research whether or not your representatives and senators support The Paycheck Fairness Act. If they don’t support the legislation, contact them to express your displeasure and to remind them that you look forward to supporting their opponent when they’re up for re-election.
4Donate to an organization that fights for wage equality
Either make a one-time donation or set up a recurring one at an organization that’s working to close the wage gap. The National Women’s Law Center, The American Association of University Women, The National Committee on Pay Equity, and The National Organization for Women are all excellent options.
5Find a volunteer opportunity
If you don’t have the funds to make a monetary donation, your time is equally valuable. Contact the organizations listed above to learn about volunteer opportunities, or look for options through VolunteerMatch and Network for Good.
6Practice your negotiation skills
Women are 16 percent less likely than men to negotiate their salaries. We’re already at a disadvantage due to the wage gap, so there’s no time like the present to begin working on the skills that could increase our salaries. Role play with a friend — preferably one who has successfully negotiated her salary in the past. Once you’ve got some negotiating skills under your belt, pay it forward and help out a peer who wants to learn to negotiate her salary.
7Support women-led companies and businesses
On Equal Pay Day and every day, make it a priority to spend your money at businesses owned and led by women — especially small, local businesses. If you need a new outfit, buy it at a boutique owned by a woman. Research your local restaurants, bars, and coffee shops so you can support businesses where women lead.