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Equal Pay Day Reminds Us That The Gender Wage Gap Still Exists


March 24 is Equal Pay Day which serves as a stark reminder that even in 2021, women in the United States are paid $0.82 to every dollar a man makes. The campaign was created to challenge the barriers at the state, local, and national levels that have prevented women from achieving equal pay, despite the signing of the federal Equal Pay Act. But what does it take to achieve equal pay? The Equal Pay Today Campaign shares their insight and years of research into this growing issue in the American workplace.

Pay Inequality By the Numbers

According to The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), New York will not reach equal pay levels between men and women until 2046. And when we consider the issue of gender profiling in the workplace, it’s no surprise.

In studying the types of careers taken up by men and women across the United States from 1972 to 2012, women were more likely to work in the following positions:

  • Pre/kindergarten teachers
  • Dental assistants
  • Registered nurses
  • Librarians
  • Cashiers

This is as opposed to those careers held by men including:

  • Bus Drivers
  • Pharmacists
  • Photographers
  • Mail carriers, post office
  • Physicians and surgeons
  • Lawyers
  • Computer programmers
  • Civil engineers
  • Carpenters

It should come as no shock either then, that when comparing not only the opportunities in each field, but also the projected incomes in those, women would earn less. And, if they were women in those male-dominated industries, they would not be at the equal pay level as their male counterparts.

While these gendered careers have changed over time, for example, teaching would no longer be a male-dominated field starting in the late 1800s, its ramifications are felt even today as education has become more standardized, leaving little room for changes in curricula by these female educators.

But it is not just pay inequality and gendered opportunity that has left the wage gap wide. It is also the fear of retaliation in the workplace that has left many women who know they are experiencing wage and gender discrimination to remain silent.

Discrimination, Retaliation, Wage Disparity

In a 2014 study by IWPR, respondents were asked about employment policies that inhibited their ability to discuss their wages with other employees. Of those participants, nearly half of all workers said that the discussion of wage and salary information is either discouraged or prohibited and/or could lead to punishment.

The study concluded that while there was not a direct link between secrecy and pay inequality, the fear of retaliation for speaking up about or against earned wages seemed to contribute to the gender wage gap.

However, since that study, more research has shown that when businesses are transparent about earnings, employees work harder in order to earn larger wages. In addition, full pay transparency would encourage businesses to establish a standard of equal pay while allowing employees to advocate for themselves for equal pay for equal work and these policy practices would, in theory, increase productivity, diversity, and workplace recruiting efforts.

But as a woman facing discrimination or retaliation as a result of wage disparities, what options do you really have?

Employers who treat employees differently in any aspect of their employment including hiring, firing, wages, benefits, etc., because of their actual or perceived gender may face harsh consequences under both federal and state laws. And Brown Kwon & Lam can help.

Equal Pay Day Reminds Us All Are Not Equal Until Wages Are Leveled.

You work hard for your wages–make sure you’re getting your fair piece of the pie.

If your rights have been violated in New York as a result of gender and/or wage discrimination, you deserve justice. To pursue a claim, it is best to seek legal representation from a New York City employment attorney, like Brown Kwon & Lam, to ensure you receive the justice you deserve.

If you believe that you were a victim of gender discrimination or harassment, contact us today.