What Equal Pay Day REALLY Looks Like For Marginalized Women
April 4, 2017 is Equal Pay Day, which is the day marking how far into this year women would need to work to get paid what men did for last year. And yes, we'd have to work all the way until now — the fourth month of the year. According to the Economic Policy Institute last year women earned, on average, 22 percent less than men. And before you say that it's better than some places, let's remember that the U.S. comes in at 45th in the World Economic Forum Gender Gap report. So yes, better than some places, but still absolutely pathetic. It's an embarrassment.
But here's the thing — some women experience the pay gap way more than others. Using data from The National Women's Law Center's (and the handy little map they've created) you can see the actual pay disparity from state to state — and, crucially, from state to state for different female demographics. Because marginalized women suffer gender discrimination more and, especially if you're privileged and white like me, it's important to acknowledge that.
For example, according to their statistics, a Native woman in Iowa makes a mere 49.5 percent on the dollar. Yup, that's lower than the average pay gap before the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963 (it was 54 cents then). And less than half of what men get. So saying that we still have a long way to go would be an understatement. Just to give you an idea, here's what Equal Pay Day would actually look like for some women around the country:
For The Average Black Woman: May 15th
Just to get an idea of the huge difference, if we were looking just as black women, their equal pay day would be over a month away. On average, black women make 63 cents on the dollar. But think about that over a whole lifetime. You know what that adds up? On average, black women lose around $840,000 over the course of their lives to the wage disparity. Think. About. That. Number.
For The Average Latina Woman: June 17th
And for Latina women, it's even worse. The average Latina woman makes just 54 cents on the white man's dollar. That means a lifetime loss of over a million dollars. A cool million. Latina women lose a million dollars over their life, just because of inequality.
In fact, in eight different states Native women will lose over a million dollars over their lifetime as well. When you take a step back, it's about a lot more than cents on the dollar. Because those cents add up.
For A Black Woman In Louisiana: July 10th
But even the difference state-to-state is shocking. The average Black woman in Louisiana makes just 47.8 cents on the dollar— less than half. So she'd have to work more than halfway into this year, until July 10th, to be paid the same amount. It's so not OK.
For A Latina Woman In California: July 27th
Even blue states, where we like to think this situation might be better, have some shocking statistics. For a Latina women in California, she is likely to make 43 cents on the dollar. So Equal Pay Day for her would be July 27th. That's right, we're almost at Harry Potter's freaking birthday — which everyone one knows means fall is right around the corner. It's obscene.
These are just examples, but you get the picture. Nationwide, marginalized women are hit harder by the pay gap. It's important to mark these days and create awareness about the pay discrepancies — but it's also important to recognize where they're most felt. Equal Pay Day doesn't look the same for every woman.