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What is Equal Pay Day?

Equal Pay Day this year is March 24 – but that's only part of the story


In the U.S. today women, on average, make 84 cents for every dollar a man earns – and that’s primarily white women. Women of color are by far the most impacted by the wage gap, with some women making just 53 cents for every dollar a…

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In the U.S. today women, on average, make 84 cents for every dollar a man earns – and that’s primarily white women. Women of color are by far the most impacted by the wage gap, with some women making just 53 cents for every dollar a man makes.

And, as bleak as these figures sound, they don’t even include the unfair wage practices which must be endured by trans women, who are not considered in current wage gap statistics.

See related: Overcoming the pay gap as a woman of color

When is Equal Pay Day?

Equal Pay Day began 25 years ago in 1996 as a way for women to protest and bring public awareness to the wage gaps that women face in the workplace. Equal Pay Day takes place on March 24 and encourages women to wear red to highlight “how far women and minorities are in the red with their pay,” according to the National Committee for Pay Equity.

Equal Pay Day marks the day of the year that it would take women to make the same amount of money as men did in the year prior. As it stands, when looking at a typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work day, most women start working for “free” around 2:40 p.m. each day.

Wage gaps by demographic

Determining the true wage gap that exists between men and women varies based on the source and the organization collecting data. It’s important to note that data on wage demographics between men and women of color are not as accurate as demographic data surrounding non-hispanic white women.

While almost all women suffer pay inequity in some form, Hispanic women, Native American women and trans women likely face an even larger wage gap than shown due to underreporting of marginalized groups.

For the purposes of this article, we used the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Demographic Wage Gap* Equal Pay Day
Asian American & Pacific Islander women**91 cents on the dollarMarch 9, 2021
Non-hispanic white women78 cents on the dollarMarch 24, 2021
Black women61 cents on the dollarAug. 3, 2021
Native American women60 cents on the dollarSept. 8, 2021
Hispanic and Latina women53 cents on the dollarOct. 21, 2021
Trans womenData unknown and underreportedUnknown

What you can do to fight for equal pay

In previous years, the National Committee on Pay Equity organized gatherings to protest wage inequality. Though COVID-19  restrictions make public gatherings difficult, there is still much that can be done to show support for wage equality.

Contact your House Representative and senator

  • Let your local representative know just how important pay equality is to you and tell them to sponsor legislation to protect the right for women to earn equal wages.
  • Not sure who your local representative is? No problem! Use GovSight to find your elected officials who have a duty to act in the interest of their constituents.

Get involved

  • Sign petitions to show your support for wage equality. You can now also sign petitions and send pre-filled letters to your state representatives right from your mobile phone. Resistbot has a list of petitions you can sign and you do so by texting a specific code for each.
  • Wear red to support wage equality on March 24, 2021 – and make sure to tell your friends and colleagues about why you are.
  • Join local WAGE clubs if they are in your area so you can be involved in grassroots efforts to end wage discrimination.

Destigmatize conversations about wage in the workplace

  • While it may seem awkward or uncomfortable, discussing wages with your colleagues is perfectly okay, and most companies can’t legally discipline you for doing so.
  • When women know what a fair wage is for their role, they are in a better position to advocate for equitable wages.

Bottom line

These numbers aren’t going to get any better unless we advocate for one another – especially for those who have fallen through the cracks of data collection. Equal Pay Day needs to be more inclusive of everyone – and that includes trans women, non-binary and genderfluid individuals, and more.

Remember, every action adds to the fight for equal pay, so let’s fight together.

*Note: Data shows median earnings for full-time, year-round workers 16 years and over with earnings in 2019.

**Equal pay figures for this community vary widely by ethnicity.

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