Remembering the Wage Gap

Christina Youn, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Tues., Apr. 4, 2017 was Equal Pay Day in the U.S., a day dedicated to remember once again just how far into the year a woman must work in order to earn what her male counterparts were paid the previous year. Although this day isn’t as widely known, it is a day that highlights one of the reasons for which women fight for equality—the ever-present wage gap that exists between men and women.

According to the Insitute for Women’s Policy Research, in 2015, full-time female workers earned 79.6 percent of what their male colleagues made, and the gap is even greater for women of color. There has not been a statistically significant annual increase in women’s wages since 2007, and according to ABC News, it will take 45 years for women to earn as much as men. The wage gap that exists is always present, but many are not aware of its extent.

Equal Pay Day was started in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity to bring awareness to this disparity that exists between the salaries of men and women. The day falls on a Tuesday in April every year, symbolic of how far into the next work week a woman must work in order to to earn a man’s salary from the previous week and how far into the year a woman must work to match the amount a man earned the previous year.
This wage gap that exists is an incredibly pressing issue because it means that women earn less than men for doing the same work for the same number of hours. This issue is especially problematic for the more than 15 million U.S. households headed by women, 29 percent of which live in poverty. In a time when both men and women are seeking increased independence and equality, this disparity in wages is unacceptable.

Therefore, days like Equal Pay Day are essential because they bring attention to this issue. Furthermore, the Workplace Adancement Act aims to empower employees, especially women, with information about wages so they can be informed advocates for their compensation. Just by informing people of this problem, we are working toward a more transparent workplace, an environment in which one is not afraid to speak out about this issue.
It is an incredibly simple principle at play— knowledge is power. When employees, especially women, can seek out more information without fear of retribution, they can more confidently fight for equality and negotiate work arrangements with this wage gap. Whether it be working with the employer about accepting less pay for increased flexibility with medical appointments asking for more family time, our culture of silence in the workforce must stop.

However, not only should this information be important for women, but it also effects men indirectly. Therefore, this is a problem that both men and women must address together. This complications associated with this issue are faced daily, but we often aren’t thinking about the problem itself. In order for change to take place, it needs to start by educating the public and spreading awareness. Days like Equal Pay Day should be taken as a reminder for the progress we have made and the strives that still must be made.