Today is 2015's Equal Pay Day -- the date that symbolizes how far into the year women have to work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Equal Pay Day is a reminder that the wage gap is real, and it f--king sucks.
In just the last year we’ve learned that male nurses have been earning thousands more than female nurses for decades, that the pay gap could be getting worse for millennial women, and that Patricia Arquette was paid less for "Boyhood" than she paid her dog walker and babysitter so that she could shoot the film. A new report being released for Equal Pay Day also finds that the wage gap has a disproportionate impact on mothers -- and especially single mothers and mothers of color.
As MTV’s Look Different explains, “Despite the basic principle that women and men should be paid the same wages for the same work, a gender-based wage-gap persists. More than 50 years after the Equal Pay Act was signed, women who work full-time, year-round still earn 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. For women of color, the gap between women's wages and men's wages is even worse – 64 cents for African American women and 54 cents for Latinas.”
OK, So My Male Coworker Makes More Than Me. Now What?
These numbers aren't news to many of us, so to get some answers MTV News spoke with Vicki Shabo, Vice President of the National Partnership for Women & Families, about how to handle pay inequality at your workplace.
“Young women are paid less on average right out of college," Shabo told MTV News. “The most important thing for a young woman to do is try to gather all the information they can, but they should also be cognizant that there may be policies in their workplace prohibiting them from discussing wages and salaries.”
It's important to know what those policies are and to be careful when gathering information so that you can't be fired.
“Once you have safely armed yourself with as much information as you can,” said Shabo, “first try to find a supervisor within your workplace or a member of your HR department who is amenable to working with you to make sure that you’re paid what you deserve. [If that doesn’t work], you may have a claim under the Equal Pay Act or under state law. You can file a charge with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).”
Is There Anything I Can Do To Make A Difference Today?
According to the National Committee on Equal Pay, “Equal Pay Day involves thousands of local advocates in programs and activities focused on eradicating wage discrimination against women and people of color. Local Equal Pay Day activists organize rallies, lobby days, speak-outs, letter-writing campaigns, workshops, and meetings with employers, policy-makers, and enforcement agencies to promote effective solutions for closing the wage gap.”
And if you really want to make a difference on Equal Pay Day, be sure to let your representatives know that you plan to hold them accountable for doing their part to close the wage gap.