What is Women's Equal Pay Day?

AboveBoard | Mar 08, 2023

Uncover the facts and figures behind Women’s Equal Pay Day.

In 2023, the average woman worked until mid-March to earn what her male counterpart had already made in 2022.

On Women's Equal Pay Day 2023, we shine a spotlight on the inequities experienced by women in the workforce and reflect on ways we as individuals, leaders, and organizations can work to close the gender pay gap. Women's Equal Pay Day isn't a celebration; it's an opportunity to awaken to the vast disparities that still persist in our society today, particularly for women of color, mothers, and primary caretakers.

Ahead, we'll offer an overview of what Pay Equity Day is, why it's important, and what we can do about it. Let's get started.

What is Women's Equal Pay Day?

First observed in 1996, the purpose of Women's Equal Pay Day is to draw attention to the inequities between men and women's wages. This year's national equal pay day on March 14, 2023 marks the current state of the gender wage gap—in the past year, it took the average woman until March 14, 2023 to earn what her male counterparts had earned by the end of 2022. 

Since its inception, Women's Equal Pay Day has shifted throughout the year, falling for the first time in March in the year 2020, per the U.S. Census Bureau. Although the gap has closed slightly since then, it nevertheless persists. Today, the average woman working full-time earns about 83 cents for every dollar earned by men. 

Women's Equal Pay Day considers the wage gap for the average woman, but there are also days set aside to recognize the inequalities experienced by Native, Latinx/Hispanic, and Black women, too. Many of these equal pay days fall much further into the year, even in December for some groups of women.

Why is National Equal Pay Day celebrated?

Think of Women's Equal Pay Day as a day to learn about and reflect upon the realities faced by women, especially marginalized groups of women who have to work even longer into the new year to earn equal pay. By thoroughly understanding the challenges women face in the workplace, we're better positioned to address inequities and form policies that support all workers. 

Let's look at some stats about Equal Pay Day 2023.

The first pay equity day was observed on April 11, 1996. At that time, "American women earned only 75 cents for every dollar a man brought home," President Bill Clinton said at the time. Moreover, "African American women and Hispanic women collect[ed] just 66 cents and 57 cents, respectively."

And the gender pay gap for these women has not changed much, if at all. Black women actually earn less than they did in 1996, currently earning 64 cents per dollar made by a white, non-Hispanic man, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. And Latinx/Hispanic women still earn 57 cents for each dollar, per AboveBoard's findings

Here's what else you should know on Women's Equal Pay Day 2023:

  • "Men outearn women within every age group," reports the Center for American Progress. Women ages 25 to 54 earn 16 percent less than men, with the largest pay gap for women aged 65 and older, earning "27 percent less than men of the same age." 
  • Does attaining levels of higher education close the wage gap? Not according to the latest available data. Women with bachelor's degrees still earn less than their non-degree holding male counterparts.
  • Working mothers experience "additional disadvantage" when it comes to equitable pay, including a "per-child wage penalty," a Harvard study found. "The 'motherhood penalty' may account for a significant proportion of the gender gap in pay, as the pay gap between mothers and non-mothers could in fact be larger than the pay gap between men and women."

Policies to consider on Equal Pay Day 2023

The existence of the gender wage gap points to cultural and institutional biases, whether conscious or not, within our society and even within particular organizations. Though closing the gender wage gap will be a multidimensional effort involving policy makers, business leaders, and much more, that shouldn't stop us from doing our part in making National Equal Pay Day a thing of the past. 

Below are examples of policies that can support equal pay for women:

  • Make salary transparency standard. Secrecy around pay hurts women. Offering salary range transparency can help reduce the wage gap, according to the National Women's Law Center.
  • Prioritize fair treatment for pregnant employees and those with care-giving responsibilities. Research shows that the discrimination faced by female caregivers can result in being perceived as less competent, access to fewer professional development opportunities, and reduced pay. In instances like these, it's important to check any unconscious biases we may hold. 
  • Engage in inclusive hiring practices. Incorporating equitable and inclusive policies in the workplace begins by ensuring the workplace itself is staffed with people who hold such values. AboveBoard can help you get started with diversity policies, board member recruitment, and more.

Advance pay equity for women alongside AboveBoard

Women make up close to half of the total U.S. labor force. Yet the vast majority of women are not paid what they're worth. At AboveBoard, we're on a mission to change this. For us, it's all part of the long game. 

Our mission is to create inclusive, equitable workplaces, starting with the executive recruitment process. Our goal is to reshape the global executive workforce to be reflective of the population, including underrepresented groups of executives like Black, Latinx/Hispanic, and women leaders. We believe that in doing so, we're contributing to better service, more fair hiring practices, and more inclusive decision-making that can help reduce inequities like the gender pay gap.

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