Exactly 100 days into 2018 is Equal Pay Day. This heavily symbolic date, these additional 100 days, represent how far into this year women would have to work to make the same salary as a man in their same position.
The bad news - there is still a significant wage gap. The good news - we have the power to close it, because we have a lengthy history to learn from. But one of our biggest roadblocks is ignoring it.
For example, employers will often ask interviewees for their wage history. Where women have been stuck in a rut behind men, a woman's previous salary will work against her to keep her along the same pay grade, hindering financial growth. If employers didn’t have an old figure to consider, opportunity based on qualifications could have a price tag to match.
The Equal Pay Act dates back to the early 60s when President John F. Kennedy passed this law to mandate equal pay for equal work. This was an incredibly pivotal moment for women, who were then earning 59 cents to the white man’s dollar.
Former President Barack Obama made a crucial step forward in 2009 with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, countering a Supreme Court decision by allowing women the opportunity to report wage discrimination at any time. Following Equal Pay Day in 2014, Obama signed the Paycheck Fairness Act, an executive order allowing employees to discuss their salaries. Previous to this sanction, women had been kept in the dark regarding the inequalities of their pay next to coworkers, silenced at risk of losing their jobs.
As the social climate ripened and legal action was taken at our nation’s highest level, the wage gap was the slightest it had been since the 60s. Even with positive steps forward, we face over 100 years until the gap is closed.
Well, probably even more if we keep doing things like Tr**p.
The current administration celebrated last year’s Equal Pay Day by revoking major motions made under President Obama. Paycheck transparency, economic discrimination and harassment in the workplace are no longer legally mandated. Further, they felt it would be an inconvenience to employers to provide the federal government with data reflecting wages by gender and other subgroups.
Despite the lack of support from the top, some corporations are paving the way all on their own. Citigroup Bank released a statement in January committing to close their wage gap across all margins within the year. They follow a big group of trailblazers, including Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike, Intel, Amazon, Spotify, Target, and many more who have publicly pledged to serve as equal pay employers.
As of this month, the National Partnership for Women & Families organization reports a median gender wage gap of $10,086. Race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ability, among other factors, play an enormous role in this number. Specifically, white women in the United States earn 80 cents for a white man’s whole dollar. Black women earn 63 cents. Latina women earn 54 cents. Asian women earn 87 cents, although ethnic subgroups statistically are paid dramatically lower. Because of the wage gap, American women combined lose an estimate of nearly $900 billion yearly.
Discriminations against trans individuals deepen this scale, where even lower rates of opportunity and compensation are attainable. Additionally, legally disabled people typically earn 64 cents next to a dollar of a legally able-bodied person.
So, hope doesn’t look as cute dressed in orange. Especially when hope’s best is political action.
Just over a year into a new presidency, women’s rights have heavily suffered. Restrictive policies have targeted abortion and contraception, from the attempted abortion ban to ongoing proposals to defund family planning organizations, and the first sitting president to speak at the March for Life. Sexual assault reins without redemption, as the president denies the claim of (at least) 17 women. And today we are reminded of the widening pay gap, signed, sealed, and delivered from the kid in the big white house.
All the while, the current political state has managed to empower women in the most bewildering way.
With every effort to keep us down, our strides hit harder against the pavement where we march. We organize, we call, we text, we post. We are the living, breathing, resistance in all its raging glory. We are pissed, we are working, and we are trending worldwide. We are pleased to have your attention, see what makes us great?
Today is another underscore on our lengthy to-do list. The wage gap cannot dissipate without this work. We won’t stop until 100 is ours, too.
x Dani Pinkus