Today, April 20, will be noted variously as Hitler’s birthday, the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in the U.S., and an excuse to get totally stoned (huh huh huh, 4-20, geddit?). More importantly, it’s also Equal Pay Day, which has been marked annually since 1996, when the National Committee on Pay Equity decided that the pay gap between men and women needed more attention.
In the States, April 15 is when our state and federal taxes come due, and there is seemingly endless pissing and moaning about how the government is robbing us blind (and here’s a game: Count the Rape Analogies!), but I’ve yet to hear from any of these said piss-and-moaners that due to wage disparities, on average, women have to work 23% longer than do men to earn the same amount, without a 23% decrease in their tax burden. (And again, this is average; many women of color are even more disadvantaged by pay discrepancies.)
Hitler, murder, and weed are perhaps not the best associations for this cause, so why choose April 20? April was selected for its association with taxation and financial matters, and a Tuesday was selected to represent how far into the work week women must work to earn what men earned the previous week. (Seeing it on that scale really makes me mad, for some reason.)
So, what can you do to help out on Equal Pay Day? Well, first of all, arm yourself with knowledge about the pay gap. You can do that here, where there are lots of links and resources. You can share your knowledge with other women, perhaps by starting a WAGE (Women Are Getting Even) club, to create channels for knowledge and to support women advocating for themselves with their elected officials and their employers. If you’re in a position of power in your business, you can lead the way by auditing your company’s policies and pay rates to see if (IF?) there are significant inequities. You can share your knowledge with your colleagues, your friends and families, and you can put the lie to the notions that “men are rightfully paid more because”:
- they’re better educated
- they work more dangerous or more difficult jobs
- they have families to support
- they blah blah blah garbage lying crap
The Equal Pay Day Kit has a lot of examples and templates and useful tools. It’s probably a bit late to call a press conference, but that’s no excuse to let the day pass you by. Put it on the calendar for next year, and get started now!