In conversations about the gender wage gap, you frequently encounter a lot of numbers (particularly the average cents-per-every-dollar ratio between men and women's earnings) and heartbreaking stories of the financial burdens behind those numbers. But each year on Equal Pay Day — the symbolic day where American women start to "catch up" to the average earnings of men from the previous year — women from all walks of life seek to bring attention to the disparities and, ultimately, find a way to bridge the gap. So, how did American women celebrate Equal Pay Day 2017?
Of course, as the April 4 date primarily correlates with the day white women's salaries begin catching up with men, the best Equal Pay Day celebrations kept in mind that the often cited "79 cents on the dollar" figure isn't the only one that matters — and worked to shed light on the experiences of all women. Whether it was through humorous attempts to brighten the mood and spread hope, heartfelt shout-outs to inspirational women who do #TheWork every day, educational programs and events, or making compelling art (and .GIFs), American women used Equal Pay Day 2017 to push the conversation about pay inequality (and its intersections) even further.
1Taking To The Streets
If 2017 has taught America anything, it's that protests still work as a real, bodies-in-the-streets method of resisting. That's why groups like Fight for 15 encouraged people to take to the streets and organize around racial and economic justice in honor of the 49th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination (while standing up for striking sanitation workers).
2Hacking The Negotiation Process
The CindyBot, a chat-bot based off of British advertising consultant Cindy Gallop, was created to help women prepare for raise negotiations. Created by ad agency R/GA, career site The Muse, Ladies Get Paid, Reply.ai, and salary tracking firm PayScale, the CindyBot provides a real tool for women who might struggle to ask for the money they're worth. Even the grumpiest of luddites can't take issue with this robot lady-boss.
3Joking About Employing Enterprising (If Legally Sketchy) Strategies
idk how y'all are celebrating equal pay day tomorrow but personally i will be pickpocketing all men— emma lord (@dilemmalord) April 3, 2017
You either laugh about it ("it" being the crushing anxiety caused by inequality) or you spend all your time crying. Lightening up the mood with jokes is always an option.
While sharing some super cute artwork from her new book on Instagram, Broad City's Abbi Jacobson shared a relevant excerpt:
In addition to recognizing some of the hard-won victories, taking the time to talk about the long, long history of inequality is an incredibly important way to keep the momentum for the current conversation alive.
5Putting On Some Bad-Ass Bake Sales
This Monday we and AAUW are hosting our equal pay day bake sale! Come and buy some of our baked goods, and learn about gender pay disparity! pic.twitter.com/rbIZttEP91— WILL at UM Dearborn (@WILLatDearborn) April 1, 2017
A favorite trend from recent years among different activist groups (particularly on college campuses) has been throwing "Equal Pay Bake Sales." Typically, they're run so prices are based on the latest data on pay inequality (men pay $1, white women pay 79 cents, etc.) or, sometimes, they receive only a percentage of the baked good they pay for. Either way, the goal is to use one's sweet tooth as a lure to make some tangible points about the kind of money women make.
6Tossing Out The Taboos
Happy Equal Pay Day! Men, please celebrate by telling your female coworkers your salaries!— kelsey mckinney (@mckinneykelsey) April 4, 2017
While many of us were taught that it's never polite to talk about money, sometimes (like in the face of overwhelming inequality) you have to throw out manners for the sake of making a lasting change. That's also why many activists and advocates insist that being transparent about salaries and having those conversations — even if (and especially if) they're awkward AF.
7Making Some Thoughtful Revisions
If you spent a chunk of your day humming Donna Summer, Refinery29's beautiful .GIF-tastic twist on her song will make you swoon. It will also change how you think about all the ways inequality is built into our economy.
8Sending The Love
Alicia Keys' heart-string tugging send-up to her mother via Instagram is a great reminder that when you can honor Equal Pay Day, you're also honoring the countless working women who have worked, fought and, far too often, settled for less — with the end-goal of making things better for the next generation.
And while this is a difficult conversation to still be having in 2017, we can all hopefully keep building on the diverse work of women (past and present), gender non-conforming individuals, and allies to close the gap for good.