It’s Equal Pay Day in America, an unofficial equal rights holiday that encourages women to fight for payment on par with their male coworkers. Celebrities and everywomen alike have been outspoken on the issue since the National Committee on Pay Equity introduced the movement in 1996.
The hard numbers on the gender pay gap disparity vary depending on which company is conducting the research, but most studies show today’s female employee can expect to receive 75 to 85 percent of a male doing the same job.
This is a vast improvement from the pay gap that used to sprawl between the genders – according to the Pew Research Center, women made 64 cents to the dollar in 1980 – but as the years wear on the rate of progress has slowed. An Employee Benefit Research Institute study from 2014 indicated that women are nearly twice as likely to retire in poverty.
Women entering the workforce today fare the best of any women, earning close to their male coworkers at the beginning of their careers, but Pew Research Center’s report indicates that this progress tends to decline the longer women remain in the workforce. There’s a number of reasons this may be the case – statistically, women are more likely to take more time off or leave the workforce entirely for childcare, and female-dominated industries tend to have a lower hourly wage than male-dominated ones.
Levo League, an organization promoting Equal Rights Day with the hashtag #ask4more, has also pointed to the workplace culture that needs to change in order for women to receive equal pay.
According to a recent study conducted by Levo, part of this failure to progress can be tracked all the way back to initial job negotiations, citing that 60 percent of those surveyed did not attempt to negotiate their initial salary, even though 83 percent agreed that it was important to do so when accepting a position. Failure to negotiate, survey participants revealed, was primarily because of anxiety that the job offer would disappear if they attempted to negotiate a higher salary.
While it’s unclear how long it will be until women are paid an equal wage, proposed legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act, which aims to add protections to the Equal Pay Act of 1963, could be instrumental in forwarding the movement. Personally, I feel that
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