It’s Equal Pay Day today in Ontario, Canada, following on America’s Equal Pay Day on Tuesday, April 12, and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) has released their Spring 2016 statistics on the gender pay gap – and they’re not looking good.
Factoring in not only median pay and gender but also race, age, and education, the study shows that while wage disparity is much less among people under 35 and anyone who isn’t white or Asian-American; it’s because their earnings are less across the board. When factoring in education, the trend remains.
It’s an issue that’s starting, finally, to get serious attention.
As The Guardian reports, President Barack Obama took the opportunity to dedicate a new national monument to equal rights for women and to push Congress to enact new legislation requiring employers to demonstrate that wage disparity is not based on gender. According to RT, under the proposed legislation, any American business with 100 or more employees would be required to provide annual pay summaries sorted by gender, race, and ethnicity, encompassing 63 million employees nationwide. Obama is also pushing the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation which would offer more resources to women who want to legally challenge wage discrimination.
“Today, the typical woman who works full-time earns 79 cents for every dollar a typical man makes. The gap is even wider for women of color. The typical black woman only makes 60 cents, a Latino woman, 55 cents, for every dollar a white man earns. If we truly value fairness, then America should be a level playing field where everyone who works hard get a chance to succeed. That’s good for America.”
“I’m here to say we will close the wage gap.”
Presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton also weighed in on Equal Pay Day. According to The Independent, speaking at the 11th annual Glassdoor conference in New York, she spoke in support of the women of the U.S. national women’s soccer team, who are currently suing the United States Soccer Federation for wage discrimination.
“We cheered when they won the World Cup and we cheered when they won the Olympic Gold medal and we noticed that our men’s team hasn’t yet done that. And yet somehow the men are making hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the women.”
“Now you know the phrase equal pay for equal work. Well, in America we believe in equal pay for equal play, too, and that’s why we need to elevate this issue.”
Now, while the AAUW’s numbers indicate that President Obama’s cited statistics are a little off, evidence suggests that America is falling behind in equality and women’s rights, one of the seven members of the U.N. (along with Iran and Somalia) which still hasn’t ratified the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, also known as “the international bill of rights for women.” America is also ranked 20th overall by the World Economic Forum in their Global Gender Gap Report while ranking 62nd for “health and survival” and 65th for wage equality.
But the AAUW’s numbers do paint an interesting picture of discrimination for us. When taken as an aggregate number, the racial pay gap is much higher, as both President Obama and Sen. Clinton noted. However, when compared to other members of their race, the pay gap shrinks significantly because the wages themselves shrink significantly.
What does that mean? Well, when compared to a white man, a Hispanic/Latina woman, on the median income, makes a little over half of what a white man makes. But when compared to the median Hispanic/Latino man, she only makes 10 percent less because both of them are making significantly less than their white counterparts. A median-earning Hispanic/Latino man makes roughly $21,000 less a year than a white man while a Hispanic/Latina woman makes around $11,000 less than a white woman. And a significant amount of that lowered disparity likely indicates that there are far more minorities working in minimum wage positions.
Similarly, comparisons by age and education, both popular arguments against the wage gap, produce some interesting numbers. When factoring in education, the wage gap remains almost entirely consistent across the board. Women holding advanced degrees make 74 percent of what men holding advanced degrees make. Women without even a high school diploma make 80 percent of what a same-education-bracket man does. And as for age, the wage gap narrows significantly for anyone under 35, dropping off sharply afterward. And again, much of this can be accounted for due to a prevalence of minimum-wage jobs among the millennial generation.
So, not only do we have a real wage discrimination problem – the gender pay gap is very real – we also have a racial discrimination problem and a poverty problem, and no matter how close the numbers draw, it affects women worse than men across the board. The lowest wage gap number in the report is that women aged 20-24 make 92 percent of what their male counterparts do, and while 8 percent might not seem like much, any of us would be pretty upset to lose 8 percent of the wages we’re entitled to.
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]