Equal Pay Day: An Intersectional Approach
Posted on February 19, 2019
Equal Pay Day
Equal Pay Day is the symbolic marker of how long it takes for women to earn as much as men did the preceding year.
Women currently earn 80.5 cents for every dollar paid to men—and so we don’t take a man’s 2018 pay home until April 2, 2019 – equal pay day. However, the April 2nd date is based on all women averaged together. When one takes an intersectional approach to equal pay, meaning they take the time to explicate the data based on multiple demographic criteria, the reality is quite bleak.
Asian-American women are the only women of color who earn more than white women on average; they’ll make as much as men did in 2018 sometime in February. For white women, the equalizing date is in April and closets to the day we often celebrate Equal Pay Day. Black women equalize in August, Native American women equalize in September, and non-white Latina women equalize in November —meaning it takes non-white Latina women a full 22 months to make what the average man makes in 12.
Women hold the majority of jobs that pay less than $10 per hour, a wage range that includes many child care workers, home health aides and fast food workers. According to the National Women’s Law Center, women are also underrepresented in higher-wage occupations because they are frequently discouraged from or pushed out of better-paying fields such as STEM.
So, contrary to what many male pundits would have you believe, the pay gap is neither a myth nor an accident. Pay inequity is just one of a myriad oppressions that characterize our country.
What can we do to combat pay inequality?
Pay equity is one of the big issues we tackle as feminists. Misogyny and underpaying women go hand in hand. If women were perceived as valuable, respected, and equally important, it would be impossible to justify paying them less than men. Feminism is a critical tool to illuminate how many people—including women—perceive women as less-than. As women, we need to educate ourselves at all economic levels and arm ourselves with information.
A great place to start is the American Association of University Women who created an “Pay Equity Resource Kit.”
Men, Use Your Privilege
Men, particularly white men, can leverage their privileged positions to advocate for equal pay within the workplace. White men have the most social, political and economic power in the Western World. A prime example of this power is having children; while women who become mothers see their salaries decrease, fathers actually experience the opposite. White men can also share what their pay is with their non-white and non-male co-workers. Pay secrecy is inherently anti-feminist and it strengthens pay inequality. If “nothing’s wrong” with the way we pay people and if “the wage gap is a myth,” what’s the harm in sharing information?
We need to be honest about the exploitative nature of capitalism and interrogate whether it’s the best system under which to organize our society. As Katie Klabusich wrote in “The Establishment,” “Rather than passing the torch still burning for the battles we’ve not yet won, we should ask [the next generation] to dream big and then have them light their own.” Capitalism is an inherently unequal system; it reduces human beings to losers and winners. Instead of constantly struggling to address the problems created by a system that privileges capital over the sustainability of our planet, human fairness, and mutual respect, it might be time to address the system.
Attend an Equal Pay Day event or program
The Steinem Sisters Collection will be hosting “Money and Feminism Equal Pay Day and Beyond” on April 3rd at the Sanger Branch Library. During this program we will discuss the link between the prosperity of women and the prosperity of community.
Upcoming Steinem Sisters Collection Programs: Spring 2019
A Sampling of the Steinem Sisters Collection
Related Toledo Library Blog Posts
For the Feminist Curious: A Steinem Sisters Collection Book List
The Steinem Sisters Collection: Feminism at TLCPL
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