The Wage Gap Strikes Some Men, Too, Because Discrimination Comes In All Shapes & Sizes

As Equal Pay Day rolls around, the focus is, naturally, on the disparity between male and female wages. It took until April 12 this year for women's wages to match what men took home in 2015. That said, not all men are paid equally, either. And I'm not talking bank CEOs compared with elementary school teachers — but, rather, men of different races, sexual orientations, and gender identities stacked up against your white, cisgender, heterosexual male. In some cases, the men see a wage gap that's even greater than the 79 cents on the dollar that women make compared with men.

This shouldn't distract from the fight for equal pay for women, but it can inform how different systems of discrimination and oppression are all tied together and can be worked on in tandem. Take race, for example. The average black man makes just 74 cents on the dollar compared with a white man, according to numbers from a paper by the Institute for Women's Policy Research. Hispanic men have it even worse: They make just about 69 cents to every dollar.

Gay men also suffer from pay discrimination in the United States and its neighboring countries. A study showed that the average gay man in Canada with a partner makes about 5 percent less than straight men with partners (the study only looked at white Canadians). The wage gap became even more pronounced in higher-earning professions where raises and compensation packages are more based on merit and performance as evaluated by supervisors, which allows more arbitrary views of an employees worth. Gay men in senior management made on average $62,000 Canadian dollars less than their straight counterparts.

In the United States, it could be even worse. In many states, LGBT people can be fired for being who they are as no federal prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Some studies have shown wage gaps ranging from 11 to 27 percent less. Transgender individuals can have it even more difficult than even their gay counterparts. A study by The Williams Institute said that transgender women can see their wages fall by nearly one-third after transitioning.

The causes of these discrepancies matter, and policies that address them will help everyone. Not just men, but women too. Racism and systemic inequalities worsen the wage gap for both genders. Just look at the numbers. Black and Hispanic women get paid even less than white women do. African American women make just 63 cents on the dollar compared to a white man. Hispanic women only 54 cents.

To get an idea of how interconnected these issues are, read this study by The Williams Institute. The wage gap among LGBT people would be reduced by addressing either the racial wage gap or the gender wage gap, lifting many same-sex couples out of poverty. Poverty rates among black, male same-sex couples would go down from nearly 15 percent to about 11 percent. Among black women in same sex couples, the poverty rates would fall from nearly 25 percent to 17.

Many societal inequalities will need to be addressed to reduce these many, but interconnected, wage gaps. But there's also legislation that could make it easier to talk about pay at work. The Paycheck Fairness Act, for example, would protect employees who want to discuss wages at work. It's hard to know if you're being shortchanged if you can't talk about it.

While these wage gaps are a very real part of society, they don't have to be. The more we understand that discrimination is interconnected, the closer we will be to creating an equal pay for equal work for everybody.