What is Equal Pay Day? Here’s what you need to know about this symbol of pay inequality

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018 is the approximate date that the average woman must work in order to earn as much as the typical white man brought home by December 31st, 2017.

For this reason, the date has been designated as Equal Pay Day to raise awareness about the gender wage gap in America. According to data gathered by The Institute For Women’s Policy Research, women currently earn 80 cents for every dollar paid to men — but that’s a very general (albeit infuriating) statistic that doesn’t include all women, so let’s take a deeper dive into the true damage caused by the wage gap.

1It disproportionately affects women of color.

April 10th has been designated Equal Pay Day, but Black Women’s Equal Pay Day for 2018 doesn’t arrive until August 7th. The 80 cents to the dollar statistic doesn’t apply to Black women workers — they earn just 63 cents for every dollar paid to white men. The gap is even larger for Hispanic women, who are paid just 54 cents for every dollar paid to white men; Latina Women’s Equal Pay Day 2018 isn’t until November 1st. For Native women, it is September 27th.

2The wage gap is shrinking incredibly slowly.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research tracks the wage gap closely, and we are far from reaching parity. If the pay trend continues at the same rate it has for the past 50 years, women will reach pay parity in 2059. But that doesn’t apply to all women — Black women won’t reach parity until 2124 and Latina women will be forced to wait until 2233. Victory isn’t 41 years away; it won’t be achieved until all women are fairly compensated for their work.

3It leaves women with major student loans.

Women currently obtain undergraduate and graduate degrees at a higher rate than men — but education level hasn’t made much of a dent in the wage gap. This brings us to the matter of student debt. Women with college degrees end up paying higher student loans for longer periods of time than men — and, again, this financial hit is worse for Black and Latina women.

According to research conducted by the American Association of University Women, almost two-thirds of outstanding student debt in the United States is held by women. Needless to say, this financial burden prevents women from saving for retirement, investing in homes, and taking risks like starting their own businesses. Not even mentioning the fact that research by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that women need to obtain one more degree than men in their fields to earn as much — so that’s even more school debt.

4Policymakers have the power to create change.

The Equal Pay Act hasn’t been updated since 1963. The proposed Paycheck Fairness Act would put pressure on employers to actually follow the laws put in place by this legislation. Midterm elections are just around the corner, so it’s the perfect time to ask your candidates if they support the Paycheck Fairness Act — because what you’ll really be asking is, “Do women deserve equal pay for equal work?”

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