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  • Writer's pictureNicole Vorrasi Bates

Equal Pay Day 2023

March 14, 2023. Today is Equal Pay Day. Marking the day the average woman working full-time must work until to earn the same amount that her white, non-Hispanic, male counterpart earned in 12 months. 73 extra days! It is even longer for women of color and mothers.

Today is not a celebration. In fact, it is quite depressing – particularly when you take a hard look at the gender pay gap and actually break it down.

On average, fulltime working women earned 84 cents in 2021 for every dollar earned by their white-male, non-Hispanic counterparts. Based on the median full-time salary, that amounts to approximately $400,000 less over a 40-year career or an additional eight years of work. And if the woman is a mother working full-time, she earns even less – 74 cents per dollar. When seasonal and less than full-time workers are included, the average woman earns 77 cents per dollar, and 62 cents if she is a mother.

Broken down by race, the numbers are even more startling. As compared to every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) women earn 92 cents, white women 80 cents, Black women 67 cents and Native American and Latina women 57 cents. Over the course of a 40-year career, Latina and Native American women will lose an average of more than $1 million as a result of the gender pay gap.

The numbers above are based on 2021 data for full-time, yearlong workers. When data from part-time and part-year workers is included (a better reflection of the workforce), the gender pay gap increases significantly: AANHPI women earn a mere 75 cents, white women 73 cents, Black women 61 cents, Latina women 54 cents, and Native American women 51 cents. Nearly an additional year of work for Native American women!

Tragically, even today, in 2023, we still do not have sufficient data on the impact of the gender pay gap on LGBTQIA+ people!

Those fighting against equality are clearly wrong -- current protections are grossly inadequate.

Women cannot study more or work harder or make different choices to avoid the gender pay gap. As an example, women physicians earn more than $2 million less than male physicians over the course of a 40-year career. Similarly, women law firm partners earn an average of 44% less than male partners.

If we want to eliminate the gender pay gap, we need the Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”) enshrined in our Constitution. The ERA ensures that work-related unequal pay claims are subject to a strict scrutiny standard of review (with nearly a 30% greater likelihood of success), which will give the Equal Pay Act or the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act the teeth needed to put an end to the pay disparities and blatant gender discrimination.

We will need to take additional steps, such as requiring pay transparency, eliminating the use of mandatory arbitration and confidentiality/non-disclosure agreements, which enable discrimination against women to secretly flourish without risk of exposure, in connection with any work-related claims.

But the ERA is the critical first step. It is ratified and ready. All we need is for President Biden to publish it. For additional details, see our Written Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee for inclusion in the record of its hearing, “The Equal Rights Amendment: How Congress Can Recognize Ratification and Enshrine Equality in Our Constitution.”

We cannot wait any longer.

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