Celebrating Equal Pay Day

With Tax Day looming, it’s easy to overlook another important mid-April date: Equal Pay Day.  Today marks the twentieth time Americans will celebrate Equal Pay Day, which was originated by the National Committee on Equal Pay as a date to raise awareness about the gender wage gap.  The date falls in April because it symbolizes how far into the following year women have to work in order to match the earnings of men in the previous year.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re well informed on the gender wage gap.  In the last few weeks alone, we’ve briefed you on the latest numbers from IWPR, the larger gap for women of color, the controversy surrounding public calls for equal pay, and the unique challenges for women in negotiating pay.

Those of you familiar with these issues are probably wondering whether there’s much of anything to “celebrate” today.  After all, we still have a long way to go before we reach pay equality in this country.  But that’s precisely why it’s important to shine a spotlight on gender inequality, today and every day, until we reach a time when women enjoy the same opportunities, benefits, and pay as their similarly-situated male counterparts.

My approach to celebrating Equal Pay Day is to remind myself what the dollars and cents making up the gender wage gap mean to real working women across the nation.  In the debate over statistics and policies, it can be easy to lose sight of how the gender wage gap affects these women and their families.

A great place for this reminder is, where women talk about how they would spend an extra $11,000 – per the site, closing the wage gap would put an average of $10,900 a year into women’s pockets.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • An extra $11K would allow me to make sure all my kids medical needs were taken care of, not just those medical assistence allows.
  • I think I would buy a better car so I could feel safer and make sure car trouble doesn’t keep me from my job.
  • I would put away enough savings to feel safe and independent.
  • I would be able to have ends meet month over month.
  • I would give back to organizations making a difference in my community!
  • To me $11,000 extra dollars would be a godsend. It would allow me to pay the bills that I need to pay, including student loans. It would also allow me to live on my own versus having to live with my children because I don’t make enough in today’s economy to live on my own with my salary as a full time employee.
  • I live in a rural community in southeastern KY, and needless to say there are not many opportunities here. It’s very hard to find a job, and impossible to find one where you can earn a good payday. With $11000 I would finish college, so I could earn my nursing degree. I can only afford to go to school part time because I have 2sons, ages 15 & 11, and I am their only means of support. It sucks being a 35 yr old college student, but I know earning my degree is the only sure way to provide for them. So with $11000 I would go to school full time, instead of worrying about working every single hour that I can as a nurse aide. My kids & I deserve to have financial stability so with $11,000 I would make sure that we would have that from now on! 🙂

Happy Equal Pay Day!

Lauren Hartz

Lauren Hartz is an attorney who cares deeply about women's rights and about social justice causes. She also cares deeply about dachshunds.

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