We still have a lot to do with getting more women in management. It will be nice for pay to be equal per position, but it would be nice to see more women in high-paying positions of power... That is how those jobs will be made more family-friendly, too. I'm sure men don't like working 70 hours a week either. (Geeks in Rome)
That's my catalyst today for caring deeply about Equal Pay Day. But, first, the facts, ma'ams:
- April 20 is Equal Pay Day — the point in 2010 when the average U.S. woman's wages finally catch up to her male counterpart’s salary in 2009.
- There is a $10,622 gap between the median yearly earnings of men and women, which is why this year's theme is what you would do with that extra money per year.
- American women still make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.
- The gap for women of color is even higher. African-American women earn 61¢ & Latinas earn 52¢ for every $1 paid to white, non-Hispanic men. In 2008, 22% of Hispanic women, 9% of white women, and 23% of African-American women lived in poverty.
- The more education a woman gets, the bigger the gender pay gap is. In 2008 the median weekly wages earned by female physicians were 64% of the median weekly wages of male physicians. By 2004 a typical woman who graduated college in 1984 had lost more than $440,000 due to the wage gap.
- In 2008, U.S. women were 35% more likely to live in poverty than men.
- Women account for nearly 1/2 of all workers, and in 2008 nearly 40% of mothers were the primary breadwinners for their families.
- Unmarried women will receive an average of $8,000 less per year in retirement income than their male counterparts.
- If women earned as much as men, their annual family income would rise by about $4,000 and their poverty rates would be cut in half.
- If you're an American woman, urge your senators to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and help close some of the legal loopholes keeping women underpaid by protecting workers who disclose their wages from retaliation, and check out this interactive map showing which states have the biggest wage gaps — the results may surprise you!
You can read more of these facts being Tweeted throughout the day with the hashtag #fairpay.
But what Geeks in Rome said struck me, and it relates to the point up there that tells us 40% of American mothers are financially supporting their households.
I don't want "equal pay for equal work" to mean that women should enter the workforce and change themselves into men. I don't want women to think they have to work more hours, put off having children, get back to work as quickly as possible after giving birth, consider the time and effort costs of breastfeeding/pumping vs. formula, and accept jobs simply to receive some rudimentary form of health care coverage for themselves and their children.
What I want is for women (and like-minded men, too, for sure), within the workforce and entering the workforce, to transform the workforce. I want families to be valued beyond sentimental lip service. I want that wage gap to close so that women can afford decent maternity leave, and so men can also choose paternity leave. I want that extra $10,622 to go toward more time at home with a newborn to establish breastfeeding. I want companies to support breastfeeding in the workplace without making a huge deal about it as if they're being put upon. I want more job options where parents can bring young infants to work when necessary. I want health care that's affordable and reasonable for everyone and that doesn't penalize based on gender. (Mine, for instance, doesn't cover maternity care. Sexist and shocking.) I want working parents to be able to care for family members who are sick without recrimination or retribution. I want companies to understand that increasing family friendliness increases productivity and employee retention. I want more legitimate work-from-home business opportunities like Sam's and mine to allow parents flexibility in caring for their children.
I've long known that women are highly influential in bringing their families out of poverty. I've followed microloan success stories with interest — but that was in other countries, and this is here. Today's my day to wake up and see that here, in the United States, and now, in 2010, women are still the ones who have the power to pull their families with them out of poverty, if they're given the chance.
The equal-pay gap hurts families. It hurts children. It hurts young babies.
It's a feminist issue that makes me want to punch someone in the nose, but it's more than that — it's a humane issue. It's the way we keep families in poverty, and the way we can change that reality.
Women and their wages support their families, and the mothers I know could really put that extra $10,622 per year to good use.
How have you balanced parenting and working in your family? What would you do with an extra $10,622 a year?