April 4 is Equal Pay Day — the annual call-out of the gender wage gap in which women, particularly women of color, earn significantly less for equivalent work than their white male peers.
On April 3, the Pew Research Center announced its findings that in 2015, women on average earned 83 percent of what white men earned. Per the U.S. Census Bureau, African-American women earn 63 percent of what white men earn for the same work, while Latina women earn just 54 percent of what white men do.
High-profile and everyday women alike have been weighing in on social media about the realities of the gender wage gap for #EqualPayDay, including first daughter Ivanka Trump:
Today, on Equal Pay Day, we are reminded that women deserve equal pay for equal work. Closing the gender pay gap is…
But Ivanka’s post about the gender wage gap seems a little tone-deaf considering that on March 27, President Trump signed an executive order rolling back workplace protections put into place by his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, to ensure that companies with federal contracts comply with a number of labor laws — including paycheck transparency. These measures have now all been revoked by Trump.
Which is what makes Ivanka’s post seem all the more jarring, especially given her recent acquisition of a working office within the White House and assumption of a formal position within her father’s administration, as an adviser to the president.
Actions like those taken by Trump undermine the labor and civil rights protections afforded to women to combat things like the gender pay gap and the retaliation that can come with trying to find out if you are earning a fair wage and advocating and negotiating for yourself to earn such a wage. And they only spur the kinds of conversations multiplying on social media, claiming that the gender wage gap as nothing more than a myth perpetuated by women seeking to get more than they deserve.
Wages and earnings are two different things. The amount you get paid reflects your career choices, not a patriarchy. #EqualPayDay
— Kerby (@kerbymartin_) April 4, 2017
— Missy America (@Missy_America) April 4, 2017
— Josh Mocek ???????? (@J_Mocek) April 4, 2017
It's #EqualPayDay and I demand to make the same as my husband, even though he works double the hours I do.
This is the "wage gap," folks.
— Elizabeth® (@MissLizzyNJ) April 4, 2017
And yet tweets like these fail to acknowledge the actual facts that the gender pay gap does in fact exist — and, as the Pew analysis shows, that’s largely because of women continuing to shoulder the majority of child-rearing responsibilities in a family. As a result, women are faced with more disruptions to their professional lives than men and these disruptions effectively slow down women’s ability to earn an equal wage.
Which is why, on Equal Pay Day, it’s important to have the following facts on hand:
Yes, there is a gender wage gap.
Much of the gender wage gap can be traced back to two-fifths of working mothers reporting a need to take a significant amount of time off from work or ask for a reduction in hours to care for a child or other family member. More than a quarter of mothers surveyed by Pew in 2013 also shared that they have had to quit work altogether to tend to familial responsibilities. In contrast, only a quarter of men reported having had to take any kind of significant amount of time off from work to care for their families.
The gender pay gap is worse among older women.
Women between the ages of 45 and 54 earn 77 cents on the dollar relative to men based on an analysis of 2015 U.S. Census Bureau data. Women ages 55 and older earn even less on average: 74 cents on the dollar.
But it’s also (kinda of) improving overall.
The Pew analysis also found that one demographic where the gender pay gap is shrinking is among younger women. Women between the ages of 25 and 34 were found to earn 90 cents on the dollar compared with their white male peers, an improvement of 7 cents relative to the overall average for women workers.
Another sign of progress? In 1980, women earned an average of 64 cents on the dollar relative to men — meaning women have closed the gap by 19 cents over the course of 37 years.
The argument that women don’t work the kinds of jobs men do doesn’t hold up.
For those who argue that women earn less for not working the same kind of physically demanding jobs as men or that women earn less because they choose to work in fields where they are paid less, the fact remains that regardless of the kind of work women perform, they earn less.
Analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows that female teachers earn 89 percent of what male teachers earn, while female truck drivers earn 84 percent of what male truck drivers earn and female laborers earn 83 percent of what male laborers earn. Female software developers earn 81 percent of what male software developers earn, and female financial planners earn 65 percent of what male financial planners earn.
The gender pay gap is worse for mothers.
Mothers must work an additional 155 days a year to catch up to the wages earned by fathers in equivalent positions: Working mothers, on average, are paid 70 percent of what working fathers are.
The reason? The so-called “motherhood penalty,” or the real-life effect of the cultural stereotype that a woman who is also a mother is thus a less productive worker and should earn less than her male peers, regardless of their status as parents.
Single mothers fare worse of all, with those working full-time earning just 58 cents on the dollar compared with all fathers who also work full-time.
Closing the gender wage gap would help the economy.
According to an analysis of data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) by the Center for American Progress (CAP), reducing the wage gap would put twice as much income back into the U.S. economy as the Trump administration’s proposed tax cuts.
Other things that could help women and, in turn, the economy according to CAP? Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act (to enhance retaliation protections), the Healthy Families Act (allowing for paid sick days for all workers), and the FAMILY Act (allowing for longer-term paid time off for workers to care for themselves or a family member).
So perhaps Ivanka Trump could focus her social media posts and White House influence on those items if she wants to really see women advance and succeed.
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