Each year, the National Committee on Pay Equity chooses a Tuesday in April to symbolize how far into the year a women must work to earn what a man made in the previous year. In 2017, that day falls on April 4. This year, plan to spend Equal Pay Day productively, drawing attention to the disparity in pay between women and men.
The wage gap is one of the most pressing issues facing women in the modern day. Even when controlling for factors like education and experience, research has shown that on average, women are paid less than their male coworkers for the same amount of work. The most widely-cited statistic is that in the United States, most women make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes in the same profession, although that's something of an oversimplification — one that brushes off the undeniable influence of ethnicity and racism on the wage gap. (More on that later.) As a result, women have to work longer than their male coworkers to make the same amount of money, and all too often, they have to work harder just to seem as competent as men.
The reasons to join in on Equal Pay Day are many and varied. Here are nine ways to speak out against the wage gap on April 4.
1Host A Thematic Bake Sale
To illustrate how the wage gap translates to the real world, host a bake sale in a public space. (If you're not the baking type, phone a friend or figure out something else to sell.) Women receive a 20 percent discount, roughly corresponding to the size of the average wage gap, while men pay full price.
2Find An Unequal Happy Hour
If organizing and baking aren't your thing, local businesses sometimes host Equal Pay Day events where women receive a discount. You're probably more likely to find these events in cities or progressive areas of the country, but it can't hurt to take a look around your area.
3Explore Equal Pay Legislation
Did you know that Congress passed the Equal Pay Act in 1963? More than 50 years later, the gender disparity in pay obviously remains a problem, and lawmakers today are calling for further legislation to close the gap. Look up equal pay legislation in your state to see how seriously your representatives take equal pay.
4Call Your Representatives
As always, call your representatives to let them know how you feel about a particular political issue. If they're supportive of equal pay legislation, great! If not, let them know that you feel it's an integral part of gender equality. You can find your House representatives here, and contact other elected officials here.
5Post A Status On Social Media
Make sure your friends and followers know that it's Equal Pay Day. Get as creative as you want, but if you're interested in including statistics, you can find plenty of information at the American Association of University Women's (AAUW) website.
6Negotiate Your Salary
Statistically, it's pretty likely that you're being paid less than the men in your profession. Equal Pay Day is the perfect opportunity to negotiate for higher pay; Bustle has some tips for first-time negotiators here.
7Check Out Twitter
Twitter is known for being a hotbed of political activism, and it's an excellent platform for sharing anecdotes. Check out what people are saying about Equal Pay Day, and you might learn something new.
8Listen To Others
The pay gap affects groups of women very differently. White and Asian women earn higher hourly wages on average than black and LatinX women; in fact, LatinX women are paid just 54 cents for every dollar a man makes. Recognize these differences and don't discount each other's experiences just because you haven't gone through the same.
If you're a man, by the way, Equal Pay Day is time to simmer down and listen to the women in your life.
9Talk About The Gap
Although the wage gap has become a national issue, particularly after Hillary Clinton made it one of her campaign issues, some people may not realize just how pervasive the wage gap is — especially if they're not the ones getting paid less. Use Equal Pay Day as the chance to strike up a conversation about the wage gap with someone who may never be affected by it. You both might come away with something to think about.