Today, we take a moment to recognize how far we have come in the fight for wage equity and to acknowledge the chasm we still have to bridge.
Equal Pay Day was created by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to demonstrate the disparity between men’s and women’s wages.
In a timely twist of fate, national news ran an article this week about Wisconsin State Senator, Glenn Grothman and his views on pay equity:
“Take a hypothetical husband and wife who are both lawyers,” he says. “But the husband is working 50 or 60 hours a week, going all out, making 200 grand a year. The woman takes time off, raises kids, is not go-go-go. Now they’re 50 years old. The husband is making 200 grand a year, the woman is making 40 grand a year. It wasn’t discrimination. There was a different sense of urgency in each person.”
Senator Grothman’s views are yet another example proving that there is much work to do in the area of pay equity.
As co-editors of the WISA blog and fierce supporters of issues of equity and justice we reached out to people last week via Twitter asking them why they choose to wear red today. There are many reasons why people all over the country wear red today.
For some people this issue was felt locally:
“Elected representatives of the state of Wisconsin need to fully understand the issues of the wage gap and how their language insults the progress and support of women.” –Renee Dowdy
Some viewed it as a basic right:
“I’m worth it.” –Amy Jorgensen
“I have no reason not to.” –Sophie Zumout
“ I deserve fair compensation for my hard work.” –Jennifer Trayan
“My gender should not define my worth.” –Sarah Wiley
Some felt that their credentials warranted pay equity:
“My education didn’t cost me less; my career shouldn’t pay me less.” —Stacy Oliver
Some felt that greater attention to the issue is still needed.
“Because many people, like me, don’t even realize this is still an issue and hopefully it brings awareness.” –Lexi Newman
Some recognize that wearing red is a symbolic way to demonstrate the inequity:
“On Equal Pay Day I wear red because equal pay IS possible if we commit to it. Wearing red represents my commitment.” –Julie Payne Kirchmeier
As we see how states are impacted by this inequity, it is clear that women continue to lag behind men.
Illinois: In Illinois, the median pay for a woman working full time is $38,638 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man is $50,549. This means that women are paid 76 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $11,911 between full-time working men and women in the state.
Utah: In Utah, the median pay for a woman working full time is $32,163 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man is $46,609. This means that women are paid 69 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $14,446 between full-time working men and women in the state. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/site/DocServer/wf.epd.factsheet.UT.pdf
West Virginia: In West Virginia, the median pay for a woman working full time is $29,651 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man is $42,126. This means that women are paid 70 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $12,475 between full-time working men and women in the state.
For others, they concretely felt the sting of this injustice:
“I am a “breadwinner” but I can’t afford bread on my salary.” –Chrissy Wright
Supportive male allies acknowledged the issue and their role in advocating for pay equity, too:
“My work shouldn’t be compensated differently than a female co-workers because of my gender.” –Adam Casler
“I have a responsibility to educate those around me.” –Ed Cabellon
“On Equal Pay Day, I wear red because different chromosomes do not merit different pay.” –Corey Benson
“Because I have the responsibility to not make this a “women’s issue.” I have been given amazing opportunities because of my gender, and others deserve the same. This is everyone’s issue.” –Todd Porter
Others recognized the impact that this issue will have on future generations:
“I want to start a conversation that creates change.” –Becca Obergefell
“I am the man I am today due to the many amazing women in my life. Whether they realize this or not they have enhanced my world both directly and indirectly. They have shown me what life is all about. And finally, my number one goal in life is to, with my partner, raise our daughter to be phenomenal woman and for that to happen women must be seen by all as equal to men and in some cases better. ” –Robbie Lopez
“I wear red today because I don’t want future generations to have to organize an Equal Pay Day” –Ann Marie Klotz
So today, on Equal Pay Day, think about what equal pay means for you. Think about how it impacts you directly or indirectly. Think about why this is an important issue for the women in your life – and for you. Think about how this one single issue compounds issues of social justice and equality for women and men.
Most importantly – just think about it, and ask yourself , “Why do you wear red today?” And if you didn’t wear red – ask yourself, “Why not?”