April 22nd, 2008
02:04 PM ET

Do you know what today is?

Randi Kaye
360° Correspondent

Today is not just Earth Day. By some not-so-cosmic coincidence, it's also Equal Pay Day! And I couldn’t help but notice it falls on the day of the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary.

So here we are, deciding whether or not to vote for the first woman president, and it seems we still have a need for Equal Pay Day.

Equal Pay Day started in 1995 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages. For those of you who are new to this “holiday,” and yes, I use that term loosely, it is observed on a Tuesday in April and it symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year.

In other words, it takes a woman, on average, one year and about 4 months to earn what it took a man to make in just one year in the same job.

Believe it or not, that's progress. In 1963, the year of the Equal Pay Act's passage, full-time working women were paid 59 cents on average to the dollar received by men,according to the National Organization of Women. In 2005 (the most recent year tallied) women were paid 77 cents on the man's dollar. That means, over the last 42 years, the wage gap has narrowed by less than half a penny per year.

So is it just me, or does the Pennsylvania primary today make you wonder: With the possibility that a woman could be elected to the White House this year–and earn the same pay as any elected man would–is it remarkable that we still have an Equal Pay Day?

Filed under: Randi Kaye
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Julie San Diego, CA


    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for talking about something other than the Presidential election (maybe I can turn the tv back on?...went to a wine bar last night to escape politics and got ensnarled in a conversation about it anyway...)

    Equal pay. Women in technical fields have, for the most part, always gotten pay equity with men at the onset of their careers (some of us actually made more than our male counterparts at first).

    It's less about gender and more about the perceived value of the skillset – if I use my brain to design an electrical circuit, they pay me more. If I use my brain to figure out the best way to help a 5-year-old regain some sanity and start a new life after watching her mother's boyfriend murder her infant brother – that's called "volunteer" work.

    That gets you zero cachet in the bank account and the dreaded "gap on the resume".

    It also means that you"ve found a life that has some significance.

    Second point: Because we're women, we have two biological factors that work against us – we bear the children and our biology tends to drive us to nurture others to the point where we put ourselves behind our husband's careers – often to the detriment of our own.

    Still, it's a life of significance – even if the pay equity erodes as we devote ourselves to building relationships vs. the bank account.

    In the end, I'd rather be a girl than a guy. At least we get the choice how we want to live our lives.

    The guys have to work 'til they drop...

    April 23, 2008 at 1:44 pm |
  2. KC, Texas


    WHOA! It sounds like from these posts that you have opened a HUGE can of worms! Have fun getting them all back in the can and back to work!

    April 23, 2008 at 10:10 am |
  3. AJ

    I have seen this first hand so many times in companies I have worked at in management positions. I have seen women work longer hours and on weekends to get a management position while her male counterparts left early and did not work weekends and was just offered the position...oh and the men generally do make more money hourly than women in the same positions.

    I worked as a Master Planner /Scheduler and Head of Production for a Fortune 500 company and it really stood out as a major problem. When you have to sign off on the pay charts of employees daily and you see this trend first hand it is very disheartening. This differances in management positions pay between men and women of the same education and experience level with the same qualifications and work histories can be upwards of fifty thousand dollars differance in management roles!

    That is a great injustice to the female workforce!
    Alot of which are often single mothers who need equal pay to take care of their children...It is a great injustice to women. A female President such as Hillary Clinton would be able to make great strides for women and equal pay in America! I hope she has the chance to help American women finally achieve equal pay...I think they deserve it!

    April 22, 2008 at 8:17 pm |
  4. Jim

    More and more women are obtaining salaries that far exceed the salaries of men as well as top executive level positions. It is rather funny that no one seems to emphasize this point.

    April 22, 2008 at 7:51 pm |
  5. Jolene

    So it takes a woman one year and 4 months to earn what a man makes in just one year. This is surprising to me. So where does getting paid for your performance fit in? In this day and age, I would have thought the gap would be slim to none. Ok, Randi, in honor of Equal Pay Day, let's stir the pot. Give us more data and some real life examples! You've capture my attention.

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    April 22, 2008 at 5:40 pm |
  6. Melissa

    I was unaware that it was Equal Pay Day and find it a bit moot. As a single woman, I'm tired of picking up the extra work for working mothers who leave in the middle of the work day and have to tend to their sick children. A part of me can understand why women are paid less then a man because we as women are usually not there the entire time due to family obligations. Pay should commensurate with experience and time put in i.e. a full 40 hour work week. As a single woman, I find it offensive that working mothers are given more leeway to be absent for children's plays, sporting events, etc. while I as a single woman am given more responsiblitly for the same pay as them.

    April 22, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  7. Lilibeth

    Hi Randi, I agree that we have made a lot of progress, but there's still a way to go. So in answer to your question, until a woman becomes our President and earns the same pay as a male President would, I would say we still need to have an Equal Pay Day just to keep reminding ourselves that the disparity is still there.

    Edmonds, Washington

    April 22, 2008 at 4:45 pm |
  8. Kathy, Texas

    Discrimination at its finest!

    April 22, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  9. Jacqueline

    Hi Randi,

    First, define equal. Second, what do you mean by equal pay? And third, equal pay according to whom?

    This "Holiday" is totally new to me and TOTALLY meaningless as well, and I'll tell you why. I am not only a woman. I am a black woman. Why should this make a difference? you might ask. Well, the reason being, in order to discern whether it is remarkable that we still have an Equal Pay Day regardless of the "possibility that a woman could be elected to the White House this year–and earn the same pay as any elected man would" is irrelevant unless you discuss all of the variables.

    Though many may deny it, race has very much to do with how much an individual gets paid, more so than gender. And as an African American woman, that leaves me on the bottom of the totem pole. When equal pay is discussed, it is usually spoken of in general terms. To me that mean White Man verses White Woman and then the “OTHERS”, which would include me.

    Twenty years ago, I would have half-heartedly believed this fact. But back then, I was still a "Pollyanna". However, while performing my HR duties at a very prominent cosmetics company, I came across some very disturbing documents, which educated me like nothing or no one else could have. It was the company's payment chart, broken down by demographics. When I saw it, my heart sunk. I was stunned and couldn't even breathe for what seemed to be an eternity.

    When I gathered myself, my first instinct was to make a copy of it, and then call the NAACP to report my findings. Instead, I quizzed one of my supervisors about it, and stared blankly at her as she futilely explained that it really didn't mean anything; that it was just a company survey. To this day, I regret not reporting it. I still get a pit in my stomach every time something like your blog reminds me of it.

    So, Randi, we all know these practices are still perpetrated today. And chances are that African American women are still on the bottom of that pole. So, until the RACE PAY Rate is discussed and done away with, I couldn't give a hoot or two about "Equal Pay Day". EQUAL ACCORDING TO WHOM?

    April 22, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
  10. Mickey

    I honestly don't see a very large correlation between the two days. And also, it does suprise me that this "holiday" is still even recognized, considering the strides that have already been made for women in the workforce. This "holiday" is as outdated as affirmative action

    April 22, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
  11. Jill

    I did know it was earth day. Google told me. I found out it was equal payday from the morning news circuits

    April 22, 2008 at 2:17 pm |
  12. xtina, chicago IL

    I looked at the top 20 executives in my company and 16 of them are male. I don't have a problem with this, since the CEO of our company is a woman. But don't you think the "average" is skewed because most of the top executives are male? If you average out the pay, it's going to show that men make more, but I don't think it means that the salaries are less for the top women.

    April 22, 2008 at 2:17 pm |

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