Equal Pay Day: Raising Awareness

This is a guest post written by Lydia Weiss at the WorkLife Office.

Slowly but surely, the wage gap is decreasing. Currently, women earn on average 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. However, the reality is that even if the wage gap is decreasing over time, this inching towards parity has not really budged in over a decade, according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Although the Equal Pay Act was enacted by Congress in 1963, the wage gap persists. The gap is also particularly glaring for women of color.

In an effort to raise awareness about the wage gap, Equal Pay Day is a symbolic recognition that, in order for women’s yearly salary to reach that of men, women would have to work until April 10 in order to catch up to men’s previous year’s salary. But let’s be clear – that’s for white women. According to the AAUW, Asian American Women’s Equal Pay Day is in March, African American Women’s Equal Pay Day isn’t until August, Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day is in September, and Latina Equal Pay Day is in November.

One contributing factor to the pay gap is that women are often offered lower starting salaries than their peers who are men – and then women often do not negotiate to increase those offers. As many folks in the business world know, your starting salary is the foundation for future raises, therefore if women’s starting salaries are lower than men’s to begin with, their opportunity for raises is stunted, especially when those raises are based off a percentage of your current salary. For instance, if a woman negotiates a 1% raise and her salary is $40,000, and her colleague who is a man also negotiates a 1% raise, but is making $50,000 – the wage gap persists based on their existing salaries.

In order to address this issue, the Michigan State University MI-ACE Women’s Network Institutional Representatives, in collaboration with the AAUW and several MSU units are bringing salary negotiation workshops to campus for faculty and staff on April 11. You can register for the workshop for support staff or the workshop for faculty and academic staff.

At MSU, in addition to the salary negotiation workshops on April 11, other organizations exist to support women-identified folks in building professional skills in negotiation, mentoring, networking and confidence building. The Women’s Networking Association, Academic Women’s Forum, and Women’s Advisory Committee for Support Staff are just a few ways to get involved.

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