There's a conundrum with Tuesday's Equal Pay Day: how do you honor a holiday that marks the persistence of sexism in the workplace? While empowering memes, cards, or flowers may be fine for International Women's Day, I'm pretty certain no woman has ever clapped another woman on the back and said, "Happy Equal Pay Day!" And yet it doesn't seem right to let the day dedicated to raising awareness of the gender wage gap slip by without so much as a nod of acknowledgement. Here's an idea – mark the day by joining an Equal Pay Day protest.
U.S. Census data from 2015 shows that women working year-round and full-time were, on average, paid 80 cents for every dollar a man received, according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Each year Equal Pay Day marks how far into the year women must work to have earned the same amount of money men earned the previous year. This year, Equal Pay Day falls on April 4 in the United States (the symbolic date differs by year and by country due to changes and differences in data). The date is meant to symbolize how, statistically, it took women 16 months and 4 days to earn what men earned in 12 months.
In an effort to help push the gap closed, equal pay advocates are leaning on legislators and policymakers to take action. Equal Pay Day protests and rallies are a great opportunity to raise awareness about the gender pay gap while urging legislative action on equal pay. To find an event near you, I suggest starting with searching social media.
Within seconds of searching the phrase "Equal Pay Day" under Events in the United States on Facebook, I found listings for rallies planned for the steps of New York City Hall in New York City, the St. Joseph County Courthouse in South Bend, Indiana, and the Pennsylvania State Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Similarly a quick Google search turned up an Equal Pay Day rally at Daley Plaza in Chicago, Illinois.
While Equal Pay Day comes around only once a year, it's important to keep talking about the gender wage gap all year long as the gap isn't likely to close by itself or anytime soon. According to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the gender pay gap is not expected to close in the United States until 2059 (the study notes the gap won't close for black women until 2124 and 2248 for Latina women). A 2017 report by AAUW, however, estimates that a trend of slow progress when it comes to the rate at which women's wages are changing will mean women won't see the gender pay gap close nationwide until 2152.
Whether it's in 2059 or 2152, the nationwide end of the gender pay gap won't come soon enough, which is why it's important to get out there on April 4 to both raise awareness and urge legislative action to help narrow the gap.