April 4, 2017 is Equal Pay Day – a day that symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.
Help us close the gap by donating $24 to the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation on Equal Pay Day. All money raised for Equal Pay Day will go to grants for economic security and financial literacy programs for women and girls in New Hampshire.
For more background on Equal Pay Day, read this excellent Op Ed by Pat Yosha of our Leader’s Network.
APRIL 4 IS EQUAL PAY DAY
By Pat Yosha
April 4, 2017, is Equal Pay Day! This date marks the day this year when women’s pay catches up with what men were paid last year. But notice: in 2016, Equal Pay Day was on April 12! Looks like progress, right?
Well, not much. In 1974, the wage gap was 59 percent. But since then, progress has slowed. The gender wage gap has multi-faceted explanations, which take patience to digest. Nevertheless, the 2016 figure of 79.6 percent is an accurate measure of the inequality in earnings between women and men who work full-time, year-round in the labor market, and reflects a number of different factors: discrimination in pay, recruitment, job assignment and promotion, earnings in occupations mainly done by women, and women’s disproportionate share of time spent on family care.
Here are some critical numbers to keep in mind as we think about pay equity in our country: More than 15.2 million households nationwide are now headed by women, and about 31% of them are living in poverty. We need to consider factors that impact their economic lives, and the lives of all of us
Let’s look at what research shows: How does the education of a worker determine pay scales, for instance? One study shows that when males and females have equal college graduation backgrounds, one year after graduation males earn 7 percent more than females. Among full-time workers 10 years after college graduation, there is a 12 percent unexplained difference.
For men and women with a high school diploma, the gap is 23%; for those with less than a high school diploma, the difference is 20%. In other words, the gender pay gap is larger at higher levels of education! For workers with advanced degrees, for example, female hourly wages of $33.65 contrast with $45.84 male hourly wages. While women are more likely to graduate from college than men, and are more likely to receive a graduate degree than men, at every educational level women are paid less than men!
Pay gaps exist in nearly every occupational field, but jobs traditionally considered male appropriate, such as computer programming, aerospace engineering and firefighting, pay more than fields dominated by women, such as office and administrative support, sales and service occupations. Though there are educational and training efforts to open up all occupations to both genders, old habits die hard. Occupational gender segregation has decreased over the last 40 years, but even when women enter typically “male” jobs such as computer engineering, a pay gap persists. And in a once typically “female” occupation, nursing, female nurses earn only 90 percent of male nurses wages! Interestingly, only about 6 percent of women are employed in nontraditional occupations!
It’s essential to consider why women are less-well represented, for example, in higher-paying STEM occupations: tradition, recruitment, high-school course preparation and, yes, discrimination – all tend to inform females of work that will be “appropriate”, employee friendly, accommodating for an eventual role as parent. For the same reasons, women dominate in fields like education or humanities college courses, which give them entry into lower-paying jobs. The gender wage gap is a result of those decisions about college study and occupation, which are complex and far-reaching!
As more and more women have entered the workforce and as more of them have become sole or major supporters of their families, the issue of a “motherhood penalty” has received serious attention. Several studies find that mothers are paid approximately 4.6 percent less on an hourly basis than women who are not mothers. First-time mothers today are older and have more education and work experience than their counterparts in the past; these days, after giving birth, mothers are less likely to leave the labor force and more likely to return to work quickly. Despite women’s greater experience, education, and attachment to the labor force, the motherhood pay penalty persists. Interestingly, after the birth of a child, fathers spend more time at the office, whereas mothers spend less. Seventy-one percent of women with children are in the labor force today; 93.9 % of men with children are in the labor force.
Race and age are further components of pay inequity, which beg for political solutions. For Hispanic women, earnings are 89% of Hispanic men’s earnings, but are only 57% of white men’s earnings! Within the African American workforce, women earn 90% of men’s earnings, but only 65% of white male earnings. Immigrant women are paid 80 cents per dollar of what foreign-born men are paid: ($11.26 as a share of $14.02).
The gender pay gap grows with age. Full-time workers in the 20-24 age group are paid 92% of what are paid weekly; but workers who are 55-64 years are paid 76% of men’s median earnings. There is hope here that as the younger workers age, the ratio between women’s and men’s wages will continue to shrink.
In New Hampshire, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey of 2015, men’s (full-time, year-round workers), earnings were $56,525, women’s were $43,172, or 76% of men’s. New Hampshire is 38th on the ratio scale. (In New York, women earn 90% of men’s earnings. Our neighbors in Massachusetts earn 82% of men’s earnings.) So, where you live influences wage gaps!
As we consider these disappointing figures, it is useful to review what has already been done to confront the pay gap. In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was passed, requiring employers to give employees “equal pay for equal work”. And The Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination in employment hiring, firing, promotion and wages on the basis of numerous characteristics, including sex. In 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act provided additional protection. However, since 2010, the Paycheck Fairness Act is still languishing in Congress. In 2014, President Obama signed executive orders on equal pay, banning retaliation against workers who talk about their salaries, and to help identify patterns of discrimination or support for voluntary compliance.
New Hampshire ‘s legislature and governor took steps to remedy pay gap problems. In 2015, an Equal Pay Law which included a non-retaliation clause, was passed. Legislators here understood that pay equity is a family issue, not just a women’s issue. But at both the state and federal level, it has been clear all along that laws and regulations are needed; pressure on employers is needed, for the hope for voluntarily ensuring pay equity for men and women for equal work has not brought widespread results.
Some factors that contribute to the gender wage gap need serious attention in government circles at the state and national level: child care subsidies; minimum wage increases; paid sick leave; labor union membership flexible work hours; advanced- planning in work schedules. Women are more likely to be affected by policies and practices in each of these areas, particularly if they have children. Unquestionably, men, too, will benefit when these policies are implemented.
Attention to the potential power and support for women’s economic parity became vitally clear when millions all over the world participated in the January Women’s March. In March, on a “day without women”, the absence of women as workers and spenders was widely felt. The growing activism in our culture will eventually lead to policy changes and laws, and pay equity will be the ultimate outcome. When we wear red on April 4, we celebrate Equal Pay Day, but with the immediate desire to be able to eliminate the day because we have reached pay equity!
Sources for the figures included here come from:
“The Simple Truth about the Pay Gap”, AAUW publication Spring 2016; National Committee on Pay Equity website; EPI.org publication: “What-is-the-gender-gap-and-is-it-real?” ; U.S. Census Figures; National Partnership for Women and Families.
Note: Pat Yosha is a member of the Leadership Panel of the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation. She is a past-chair of the New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Women.
NEW DATE/TIME TBD
2 Delta Drive, Concord, NH
Presented by Connie Roy-Czyzowski, VP of Human Resources, Northeast Delta Dental
“Am I fairly compensated? Should I ask for a raise? How should I approach this?” If you’re asking yourself these questions, and you’re interested in finding out more about the pay gap, compensation trends, and negotiating strategies, whether you’re applying for your first job or you’ve been in the workforce for many years, attend this informative workshop!”
Today, International Women’s Day, the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation commends the millions of women and men across the state, country and world who are sharing their strength by participating in a #DayWithoutAWoman. By striking, marching, supporting women- and minority-owned businesses, donating to women’s organizations and #wearingred, we are building a collective voice in support of equity, justice and human rights for women. Like the marches on 1.21.17, this global protest demonstrates the power generated by women and men coming together to make a difference.
That difference means a world of gender equality for future generations:
- Equal and fair pay
- Quality healthcare and control over one’s own health choices
- Access to affordable childcare and family-friendly workplaces
- A safe world without domestic abuse
- Non-discrimination of gender expression and identity
The Women’s Foundation’s mission is to promote opportunity and equality for women and girls in New Hampshire. Our vision of social, political and economic equality is more important than ever and together we can make this a reality.
Thank you for all you are doing today on International Women’s Day and a #DayWithoutAWoman.
With you in spirit and action,
CEO, New Hampshire Women’s Foundation
The New Hampshire Women’s Foundation was pleased to be a partner in the New Hampshire Women’s Day of Action & Unity on January 21. This was an event in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington and in support of our collective rights, our safety, our health, our families, and our environment.
See some of our favorite moments from the day here in our Facebook album.
This is an inclusive day of action and unity. We believe in the strength possible when we act together and the necessity to build diverse coalitions because defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us. All are welcome who stand for religious freedom, women’s rights, human rights, climate justice, racial justice, economic justice, and reproductive justice.
The NH Women’s Day of Action & Unity aims to send a bold message to elected officials in New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. that we will stand together to protect the progress we’ve made. We won’t go back!