Equal pay: 5 ways to help maintain the momentum

Equal Pay Day with hand holding up sign

Women now earn 79.5 cents for every dollar men make. That means the average woman in the U.S. has had to work all of last year and then through the first quarter of this year until today, April 4, to earn as much as the average man did last year.

That’s actually more than a week sooner than last year, when Equal Pay Day was April 12. So that’s progress. (Here are some resources for anyone you know who still think this issue is somehow a reflection of men’s greater qualifications. Here is state by state data.)

But women’s work and wages face more significant threats this year than in decades, given the new administration’s hostility to family-friendly workplaces, a living wage, and essential civil and employment rights advanced in the past five decades.

We will have to work hard to speed this process. Here are five things we can all do:

  1. Speak out for enforcement of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (2009), which protects against wage discrimination.
  2. Call on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
  3. Raise the minimum wage; women are much more likely than men to be paid the minimum.
  4. Support state-level measures for paid family leave. Learn more about California’s paid leave resources here.
  5. Most importantly, acknowledge and combat bias, especially against women of color. At the rate things have changed so far, it will take Latinas 232 years to catch up with white men, and it will take black women 108 years.
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