April 20 has been designated as Equal Pay Day in this country. On a positive note it’s good to see the issue of Gender Equality receiving support. However, this is also 2016 and the Gender Gap is still far from being closed. This issue is now in it’s third century as a problem and the light at the end of the tunnel still remains in the distance. Hopefully everyone will support Equal Pay Day on the 20th of April and help us accelerate a conclusion to this issue.
Recent figures issued by the AAUW, the American Association of University Women, a group started in 1881 illustrate the challenge faced by all women in this country. AAUW is a leading voice in promoting equity and education. While we have seen some gains in some states and areas such as Washington D.C. where the gap has been narrowed to $.90 on the dollar for women and New York State which is the number one rated state in the union the gap is still formidable in many, many other states. In the two states where I live the numbers are improving:
California is the 8th best state in America with $.84 per dollar earned by men, and Massachusetts is the 14th best state with $.82 per dollar earned by men.However, Louisiana is the worst state in the union with $.65 per dollar earned by men.
When the data is examined by race an interesting story emerges when averages for women are compared within race and compared to white men. Latina’s average 89% versus Latin men but only 54% versus white men; African American women average 90% compared to African American men but only 63% compared to white men; Asian women average 79% compared to Asian men and 90% compared to white men; and finally white women average 78% versus white men.
When age becomes the factor for comparison the situation improves but is still a problem.
– 20 to 24 92%
– 25 to 34 90%
– 35 to 44 81%
– 45 to 54 77%
– 55 to 64 76%
At least the trend line is moving in the proper direction.
When level of education becomes the factor for comparison the story is difficult to comprehend:
High School Diploma 77%
Some College 75%
Advanced Degree 74%
The higher the level of education the larger the Gender Gap.
The gap is wider for mothers than single women, and nearly every occupation shows a Gender Gap including those occupations society has a tendency to consider as female occupations.
With the cost of education soaring in this country the problem intensifies for women achieving college degrees and advanced degrees. Students who graduated in the 2007 – 2008 academic year show marked difference in paying back their student loans. By the year 2012 men had repaid 44% of their college loan while women were only able to repay 33% of their loan.
The average head of household in the United States is a woman. The continuation of the Gender Gap means more families will suffer for no other reason than the sex of the head of household. The Gender Gap must be closed and closed at a far more rapid pace than the current projections. This is not an issue that can be entrusted to politicians. We must be the ones to take up the challenge and bring it to a close.
Please mark April 20 as an important date on your calendar. Try to bring this issue to your workplace. If you are a CEO or senior manager you have the ability to make a positive change. Teddy Roosevelt said: “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Let’s make work worth doing an equal prize for everyone!