Today is Equal Pay Day, which marks the additional days into 2021 the average American woman must work to earn what her male counterpart made in 2020.

82 cents—that's how much women in the U.S. who work full time, year-round are paid for every dollar paid to men.

The gender pay gap is real and we need to do something about it.

Equal Pay Day began in 1996 to raise awareness of the gender pay gap. This day is meant to draw attention to a very real, consequential problem. It involves a big push on social media and in-person events across the country. President Biden will host members of the U.S. women's national soccer team today, including Megan Rapinoe, to discuss efforts to promote equality.

It's an important effort and these conversations are worth having.


But here's the problem with Equal Pay Day: it marks the day that the average woman must work to. In this context, we're talking about mathematical averages. But women are more than statistics and the pay gap is significantly worse for many women of color and for mothers.

When it comes to catching up to the earnings of white men, The National Women's Law Center says:

  • Asian American and Pacific Islander women make 85 cents to the dollar
  • White women make 79 cents
  • Black women are paid 63 cents
  • Native American women are paid 60 cents
  • Latinx women are paid 55 cents

You can see the problem with averages. Black, Native, and Latina women must work until August, September, and October, respectively, for their wages to equal those of white men.

Mothers also experience a pay gap when compared to men. Mothers are typically paid 75 cents to the dollar of fathers, a gap that translates to a loss of $1,275 a month or $15,300 annually. Do you think having children makes you worth $15,000 less as an employee? We don't either.

And again—we're talking averages. Asian American and Pacific Islander mothers are paid 90 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic fathers; white, non-Hispanic mothers are paid 71 cents; Black mothers are paid 52 cents; Native American mothers are paid 50 cents; and Latina mothers are paid just 46 cents, according to The National Women's Law Center.

A gender wage gap exists in 94 percent of occupations. This is a systemic issue that impacts us all.

Equal Pay Day is important because it brings these issues to the forefront of the national conversation. But it's important to remember context when discussing the gender pay gap. It impacts virtually all women—but not equally.

Equal Pay Day isn't a holiday and it isn't something to be celebrated. Instead, let's channel our collective anger over systematic pay discrimination into action. Join organizations like Equal Pay Today and The American Association of University Women to support their important work. Call your legislators and ask for their support on legislation to reinstate the federal government's collection of pay data from employers. Reach out to the Biden administration and demand that the president relaunch the White House equal pay task force.

It's time that we receive equal pay for equal work.