Tuesday’s Equal Pay Day symbolized how far into the year that women had to work to earn what men earned in 2013 – about four extra months of ‘free’ work.
This day was created by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) to make the public more aware of the gap that exists between men’s and women’s wages, and how much longer women need to work to earn the same amount of pay that men receive.
When President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law in 1963, women were earning an average of 59 cents for every dollar made by a man, and today women only earn an average of 77 cents for every dollar made by a man.
However, average earning levels are even lower for women of color; white women typically make 77 cents to every man’s dollar, while African American women make 69 cents and a mere 57 cents for Latina women.
Erin Thomas, coordinator of the Leadership and Service Unit on campus, recently attended the Women’s Leadership Institute, where she learned that women own just 1 percent of the world’s assets, even though they comprise about 50 percent of the population.
These disparities exist across all sectors and even with high profile careers, such as CEOs or engineers.
Thomas pointed out some statistics from University of Denver’s Benchmarking Women Leadership in the U.S.’ 2013 Report, which found that “businesses with women on their boards outperform companies with all-male boards by 26 percent.”
The same report also reads that in K-12 education “women average 75 percent of teaching positions but only 30 percent of the leadership roles.”
“The issue is important for all to hear and address, as the effect of this inequity does not just harm women, it harms families, communities and societies when women are not compensated appropriately for the time they are away from their families,” Thomas said.
Thomas believes equal pay is an issue everyone must advocate for, and one that women should not be afraid to stand up for.
“Women need to learn to assert their value in the workplace and negotiate salary, benefits and duties starting with their first job,” Thomas said.
She also believes establishing networks and mentorship relationships can help women’s success and advancement.
As for the future, President Obama signed two executive orders concerning equal pay on Monday, and the U.S. Senate will most likely be voting on the Paycheck Fairness Act later this week, which is a further attempt to close the gender wage gap.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research projects that the gender wage gap will not be closed until the year 2058.