Earlier this year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that employers can not pay women less than their male colleagues, even if their salary at a previous job was lower. However, this was often used to justify employer’s reasoning for paying women less money for the same work. This major decision overturns a portion of the Equal Pay Act, which stated that salary can be determined “based on any factor other than sex.” While this is a powerful step forward, there is still plenty of work to be done. There are many ways—both big and small—that you can become involved in the fight for equal pay.
Education and Advocacy
To begin to understand the complexities of the wage gap and why it has continued to persist for so long, it is first necessary for you to educate yourself. Understanding how this inequality affects women in different career fields, as well as geographic, socioeconomic, and ethnic communities is the first step in becoming an effective advocate. While white women earn eighty cents to every (white man’s) dollar, black women only receive a fraction of that at sixty-three cents to every dollar. There are numerous local, state, and national organizations that work tirelessly to educate people of the pay gap, as well as helping women who are severely affected by it. For example, National Organization for Women (NOW) was founded for women, by one of the most well recognized non-profits across the country. With local chapters in all fifty states, NOW has been a leader in promoting women’s rights for over fifty years.
Contacting local and state representatives is also a productive way to spend your time advocating. Whether by phone, email, or an old fashioned letter, it is important to make your voice heard. This is especially necessary when pay-related issues are on the ballot. Part of being a good advocate is voting for people who share your views, and pushing for potential swing-vote representatives to support your cause as well. With the right strategies, your lawmakers may end up siding with the people’s wishes.
Social media is one of the most effective ways to spread information, it is also useful in engaging younger audiences in discussions about issues that matter. Some young people still may not be fully aware of the gender gap and its consequences, or what can be done to stop it. Though it might sound simple, building awareness online about the subject is a great place to start. You can share current news articles, blog posts, or your favorite non-profit’s resources about the effects of the wage gap with your followers; they will be more likely to actually absorb the information if it is presented in a user-friendly way.
Host an Equal Pay Day Event
All Women’s Equal Pay Day (commonly referred to as Equal Pay Day) is held anually on a different day each year. Usually in early April, Equal Pay Day marks the date that women who work full-time earn the total salary of what their male counterparts made by December 31st of the previous year. On Equal Pay Day, many women wear red to symbolize debt and the difference of pay. There are many other Equal Pay Day Events throughout the year after the April event that symbolize the same salary benchmark for Black women (usually in August), Native American women (usually in September), and Latina women (usually in November).
If you are interested to do something a bit more creative and provocative, the American Association for University Women (AAUW) recommends hosting a “unhappy hour” at a local bar or restaurant. Unhappy hours sell drinks to men at full price, where women get twenty percent off. This discrepancy is meant to mimic the wage gap (women on average earning twenty percent less than men), and allows women to spend an amount proportional to their earnings. Often times, these are hosted as charity events, and some or all of the profits are donated to a women’s empowerment organization.