April 17 is “Equal Pay Day,” because an American woman would have to work from the first of the year until April 17 to match the earning of the average American man. This three-and-a-half months of additional labor represents the 77 cents that women earn per dollar that men earn.
The gender wage gap is not due to the sexes doing different types of work, working less, or obtaining less education, rather it exists across all sectors of employment, races, and levels of education — even female doctors are paid 68 cents for every dollar that male doctors earn, and female lawyers 78 cents for every dollar that male lawyers earn. This disparity has persisted in spite of the 1963 Equal Pay Act, with the gap between the incomes of men and women only narrowing one-half of a cent every year since it became law.
This disparity seriously adds up, especially negatively impacting single mothers and their families at a loss of over $430,000 over a lifetime and over $10,000 per year. To imagine the value of that number, the National Partnership of Women Families has calculated that the gender wage gap for a working woman in California is the equivalent of:
- 62 more weeks of food
- Four more months of mortgage and utility payments
- Seven more months of rent
- 25 more months of family health insurance premiums, or
- 1,914 additional gallons of gas
So yeah…the wage gaps represents a lot of money.
What can we do to solve what is clearly one of the most persistent issues facing American women? None of the answers in the past fifty years have been home runs, but the The Paycheck Fairness Act is hitting the House floor soon to enforce the Equal Pay Act more strongly. As always, activism is key, so show your support for this cause by searching for a local rally or gathering where you can lend your voice!