April 12, 2011 is National Equal Pay Day, a day set aside by President Obama last year to to acknowledge the injustice of wage discrimination and to achieve equal pay for equal work.
Today, full-time women workers earn only 77% of what full-time male workers earn. In 1963, this number was 59%, meaning that since 1963, the wage gap has narrowed by less than 0.5% per year. This disparity costs America’s working women hundreds of billions in critical income each year. Some women lose hundreds of thousands of dollars a year due to the wage gap.
Why April 12? Today is the date that symbolizes how far into 2011 women must work to earn what men earned in 2010. That’s right: to earn as much as the average man earned in 2010, an average woman would need to work from January 1, 2010 until today – over 4 months of additional work to earn the same pay.
The National Committee on Pay Equity (“NCPE”) is urging women to wear red today to symbolize the fact that women are still “in the red” compared to men when it comes to pay. NCPE has created an Equal Pay Day Toolkit with information on legislation, activities, and more.
A problem with promotions. Women are paid less than men in part because they are promoted less frequently than their male counterparts. A new McKinsey report for the Wall Street Journal highlights the effect of this phenomenon, noting that while 53% of business’ new hires are women, very few hold top seats in the corporate structure. Only 25% of vice-presidents and a mere 7% of senior executives are women. Download the McKinsey&Company’s report “Unlocking the Full Potential of Women in the US Economy.”
This story is one that Betty Dukes and the women of Wal-Mart know by heart. In 2001, Betty Dukes and five additional plaintiffs sued Wal-Mart, on behalf of the company’s 1.5 million female employees, claiming they were denied promotions and equal pay on the basis of gender. Read CWLC’s Amicus Brief in Support of the Dukes v. Wal-Mart plaintiffs.
More information on the wage gap:
- Download the White House Council on Women and Girls’ report “Women in America” (March, 2011)
- Download the IWPR’s report “The Gender Wage Gap: 2010“
- Find your state’s statistics on the AAUW’s Gender Wage Map
- Track the Wage Gap Over Time