Equal Pay Day is March 31st: COVID-19 is Exacerbating the Gender Pay Gap

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As the CEO & President of Women in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE) Real Estate Brokerage, Advisor & Investor for AmicusBrain—AI for Aging Population, CSO for ZuluTime, Publisher, Connector and a National Speaker, Desirée Patno’s network and wealth of knowledge crosses a vast economic footprint. With three decades specializing in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem and owning her own successful brokerage, she leads her executive team’s expertise of Social Impact, Gender Equality and Access to Capital, and provides personalized consulting services to the Real Estate and Family Office community.

Yesterday, March 31st, 2020, marked 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. Almost four months into 2020 women finally equaled men’s 2019 earnings, due to the pervasive gender pay gap that results in women earning approximately 82 cents to every man’s dollar, which equates to a loss of $407,760 over a 40-year career. For women of color, this is a loss of nearly or over $1 million.

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; half a century later this figure has increased by 23 cents.

The gender pay gap in many occupations has only been exacerbated by the onset of COVID-19 and it’s tumultuous effect on the economy, especially as women serve as a majority of workers who are considered essential, including healthcare workers (especially registered nurses, grocery store cashiers and salespersons, child care workers, restaurant waiters and waitresses and retail workers.

According to a report by the National Women’s Law Center, “93 percent of child care workers, 66 percent of grocery store cashiers/salespeople, 70 percent of waiters and waitresses, and 77 percent of clothing/shoe stores cashiers/salespeople are women. Many of the workers in those jobs are women of color.” 

The nation’s true essential workers, the individuals who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19, are also the least paid and endure pay inequity compared to their male counterparts. Not only are these occupations generally low paid, but they often do not provide support in terms of paid leave, employer-sponsored health insurance, and child care. 

The conjunction of a gender pay gap and the economic effects of COVID-19 is affecting many women and women of color in these essential roles as many are the breadwinner of their family, who depend on their income for basic necessities. In fact, 41 percent of mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners in their families, and they often make only 69 cents on the dollar compared to fathers. 

Women are currently dealing with unprecedented changes and challenges due to the COVID-19 outbreak in their personal and professional life. Not only are some women dealing with limited mobility in carrying out their professional duties, which is stressful on its own, but some are having to care for children and family members around the clock as schools and facilities are currently shut down. 

During this public health and economic crisis, women and their dependent families are being short-handed more than other households due to the gender pay gap. The women who are working on the frontlines of COVID-19 deserve their fair share, as these times prove women are essential to maintaining the general wellbeing and quality of life of countless Americans.

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