Here’s Why the Different Equal Pay Days Matter

Two candidates walk in for an interview. They have the same level of education; they have similar work experience. The only difference is that one candidate is a man and the other is a woman. Despite the fact that women make up nearly half of the American workforce and often have a higher level of education than men, per the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). A Hired global report shows that more than half of the time, men are offered higher salaries than women for the same work

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, American women make only 82 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn. And Women’s Equal Pay Day, which was April 2 this year, represents the average amount of time a woman had to work in 2019 to earn as much as her white, non-Hispanic male colleagues took home by the end of 2018. Whether a woman is a teacher, director, marketing specialist, doctor, manager, or HR specialist, earnings data show that women earn less than their male counterparts in just about every single field.

However, the April 2 commemorative day only acknowledges the struggle for some women. This number — 82 cents — reflects the earnings of white women in the workforce. Women of color take home even less. Black women make 61 cents, American Indian women make 58 cents, and Latinx women make 53 cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts.


Here are all of the Women’s Equal Pay Days for 2019:

  • March 5 – Asian-American Women’s Equal Pay Day
  • April 2 – All Women’s Equal Pay Day
  • April 19 – White Women’s Equal Pay Day
  • June 10 – Moms’ Equal Pay Day
  • August 22 – Black Women’s Equal Pay Day
  • September 23 – Native Women’s Equal Pay Day
  • November 20 – Latinx Women’s Equal Pay Day 


While those days might readily appear to be just dates on a calendar, they signify the value that our society places on women — especially women of color — or lack thereof. Those dates represent the number of additional days women must work into the next year to make as much as white men. For Black women, it takes more than eight months to earn what a white man did at the end of the previous year. The 61-cent earnings of a Black woman equate to a loss of nearly $24,000 a year, according to a fact sheet from the National Women’s Law Center. Throughout the course of a 40-year career, a Black woman’s losses add up to a staggering $946,120. 

For Latinx and Native American women, the numbers of wages lost are even higher. Latinx women have to work for almost 23 months just to earn what white male coworkers earn in 12 months, as per the Equal Pay Today. According to a 2016 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, a Hispanic woman could expect to make just over $31,000, and her average weekly pay could be as low as $430. In addition, 16.9 percent of Hispanic families with kids under the age of 18 who have a single-income, female breadwinner who works full-time live in poverty. 

Here are a few reasons why the different equal pay days matter:


1. We cannot change what we are not aware of

If you don’t see color, then you don’t see the different set of obstacles that each group faces. The significance of the various Equal Pay Days is that everyone is not treated equally. The statistics show there is a disparity in pay for women in general, but even more so for women of color and immigrants. 

This leads us to the question of why — how did we get to a place where Black women make 61 cents for every dollar a white man makes when Black women are the most educated group in the U.S., earning 64 percent of bachelor’s degrees amongst Black students. In order to bring change, it starts with an awareness of the problem that leads to discussion and action.


2. The disparities in pay affect communities and families of color

According to the AAUW, “more than 70 percent of Black mothers are either the sole breadwinner or primary earner in their family.” Another 14.7 percent are co-breadwinners. In addition, while Black female caregivers spend about 41 percent of their annual income on caregiving-related expenses, white caregivers — men and women together — spend only about 14 percent of their income on caregiving. If women of color spend more on caregiving for their families but earn less money, then families and communities of color are directly affected and have fewer resources.


3. It is important to understand how both gender AND race discrimination affect hiring, pay, and work life

According to the IWPR, if we continue to move at the current pace toward equal pay, white women will not receive the same pay as men until the year 2059. However, Latinx women will have to wait until 2224 and Black women will have to wait until 2119 for equal pay. That is decades worth of difference in pay. It is important to see the nuances of gender and race and how they lead to unequal treatment.