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Today, April 2nd, marks Equal Pay Day, a day representing how far into the new year women have to work to earn the same amount of money men did the previous year. About four months into 2019 women finally equaled men’s 2018 earnings, due to the pervasive gender pay gap that results in women earning approximately 80 cents to every man’s dollar.
Equal Pay Day was established by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1966 to increase public awareness of the prominent gap between the wages of working men and women. In 1970, women earned roughly 59 cents for every dollar a man earned; 49 years later this figure has increased by 21 cents.
Men continue to earn more than women even in occupations with 80 percent of more female workers, such as occupational therapists, registered nurses and legal assistants, as shown by the 2017 American Community Survey. Therefore, the gender wage gap occurs regardless of the gender representation in any select field. The largest wage gap can be seen in financial managerial profession where the male median earning is about $100,000 compared to about $65,000 for female median earnings.
The pay gap isn’t a result of women not possessing the same qualifications as men, or not being able to perform comparatively in similar roles; it is the result and effect of the misguided but widely accepted ideas of the past that women do not deserve as much as men. It is a situation resulting from affirmative decisions to pay women less. In a time where prejudices are acknowledged and addressed more widely and actively than ever before, this is tragic.
Companies must do their part by ensuring they compensate equally qualified and experienced men and women the same. As advocates, we must continue demanding equal pay and not be satisfied with increases until women make a dollar for every man’s dollar. The movement for equal pay continues, and today is a stark reminder of the importance of this fight.