The 5 Things You Need to Know About Equal Pay Day

Learn how you can help to decrease the ongoing gender pay gap

Equal Pay Day
(Image: iStock/ollo)

Happy Equal Pay Day said no woman ever.

It’s that time of year—again—where we are faced with the sobering reminder that the pay gap between men and women still exists. Equal Pay Day was created in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity to bring attention to the ongoing gender pay gap. The date is symbolic and is meant to represent how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned the previous year. Although the exact day differs each year by country, the fact remains that women earn less, on average, than men and they must work longer for the same amount of pay.

Even in 2017, you can’t negotiate your way out of pay discrimination. Women often do not negotiate their salary during hiring and promotions, and sometimes the ‘caretaker/motherhood penalty’ women experience post-birth impacts their pay. Whether through lack of negotiation or unfounded penalties, women’s pay continues to lag behind similarly educated and experienced men with or without children and so the pay gap widens.

As you join forces with women to advocate for equal pay here are five things you need to know to be prepared:


  1. The pay gap really adds up


Despite the Equal Pay Act, the wage gap persists. Women are typically paid just 80 cents on average for every dollar paid to men — and that number has barely budged in a decade. Although enforcement of the Equal Pay Act and other civil rights laws has helped to narrow the wage gap, significant disparities exist. Research has shown that there are more than $530,000 dollars lost over the lifetime of a woman’s career because of the gender wage gap. The average college-educated woman loses even more—nearly $800,000. This means women bring home $3.27 less per hour than men (IWPR 2016).


  1. We have a long way to go


According to the American Association of University Women AAUW, if current trends continue at the rate of change between 1960 and 2015, women are expected to reach pay equity with men by 2059! But even that slow progress has stalled in recent years. If change continues at this slower rate, the slowest seen since 2001, it’s estimated that women will not reach pay equity until 2152—that’s almost another 100-year wait!


  1. Not even education or high-skilled jobs prevent pay gaps


You might think becoming a doctor in a specialty, with years of extensive training and experience would inoculate a woman against the pay gap. Apparently not, according to the Economic Policy Institute. “Women are paid less than similarly educated men at every level of education. And the wage gap tends to rise with education level. This, again, in part likely reflects labor market policies that foster more-equal outcomes for workers in the lower tier of the wage distribution. Additionally, men constitute greater shares of certain types of jobs, or occupations, and women greater shares in others. Some say that these differences in how men and women are distributed across occupations explain much of the gender wage gap.”


  1. The wage gap is even greater for most women of color


If you thought it 80 cents to the dollar was bad, well you are in for a more disappointing fact. Women of color throughout the year continue to observe Equal Pay Day because they are affected at a more egregious disparity. Asian American Women’s Equal Pay Day is in March, African American Women’s Equal Pay Day is in August, Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day is in September, and Latina Equal Pay Day is observed in late October.


  1. What can be done


Be an influencer in the change of policies that address the factors that lead to lower pay for women. Transparency around pay eliminates inequities. Here’s what you can do:

  • Urge local lawmakers to increase penalties for employers that discriminate by pay;
  • Always #ASKFORMORE in salary negotiations;
  • Join women across the globe who will be wearing RED on Equal Pay Day to symbolize how far women and minorities are “in the red” with their pay!



Toni the CEO & Founder of The Corporate Tea, an online resource that provides unfiltered advice to help professionals navigate their careers. Toni is a Career Strategist & HR Blogger with over a decade of experience in Corporate America. For more insights and advice follow her @thecorporatetea


  • PeacePromoter

    Re: “Research has shown that there are more than $530,000 dollars lost over the lifetime of a woman’s career because of the gender wage gap. The average college-educated woman loses even more—nearly $800,000.”

    No. Women do not lose a single penny.

    Women’s advocates insist employers everywhere pay women less than men for doing exactly the same work in the exact same occupations and careers, working side-by-side with men on the same job for the same organization, working the same number of hours per week, traveling the same amount of time for work obligations, with the same exact work experience and education, with exactly the same level of productivity.

    Yet these advocates also seem to think employers’ prime modus operandi is greed. (“Corporate greed” may be one of the Left’s more salient rallying calls.) Thus they no doubt believe employers would hire only illegal immigrants for their lower labor cost if they could get away with it (many do get away with it), or would move their business to a cheap-labor country to save money, or would replace old workers with young ones for the same reason.

    So why do these same feminist activists and women’s advocates think employers would NOT hire only women if, as they say, employers DO get away with paying females at a lower rate than males for the same work?

    Many of America’s most sophisticated women choose to earn less than their male counterparts:

    “Female physicians worked about 5 hours fewer per week than their male counterparts through age 54….”

    “In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.”

    “…[O]nly 35 percent of women who have earned MBAs after getting a bachelor’s degree from a top school are working full time.” It “is not surprising that women are not showing up more often in corporations’ top ranks.”

    “Compared to men, women view professional advancement as equally attainable, but less desirable”

    See the real reasons the wage gap hasn’t closed after thousands of measures over many decades:

    “Salary Secrecy — Discrimination Against Women?”


    Liberals’ persistent, politically motivated distortion of the gender wage gap has, I believe, resulted in this:

    “Republicans don’t have near as big a woman problem as Democrats have a man problem.” WSJ

    And this:

    “The whole Democratic Party is now a smoking pile of rubble: In state government things are worse, if anything. The GOP now controls historical record number of governors’ mansions, including a majority of New England governorships. Tuesday’s election swapped around a few state legislative houses but left Democrats controlling a distinct minority. The same story applies further down ballot, where most elected attorneys general, insurance commissioners, secretaries of state, and so forth are Republicans.”