No, not the second Sunday in May that has come to represent an interesting mix of sentimentalism and commercialism, with just the right dose of “call your mother” guilt, but rather, the day that working mothers finally catch up with working fathers, as it relates to the gender pay gap.
Equal Pay Day raises awareness of the gender pay gap that continues to exist for all women. It was created by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a mechanism to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s salaries (www.pay-equity.org) The median full-time female worker makes just $0.81 for every dollar her male counterpart earns. This year, Equal Pay Day for all women was April 2nd, but when we delve deeper into the various segments of this population, we see how much longer specific groups of women have to work in 2019, in order to earn the same amount of money earned in 2018 by white, non-Hispanic men.
According to the data, Asian American women make $0.85 for every dollar, so their equal pay day was March 5, 2019. African American and/or Black women earn $0.67 for every dollar and their equal pay day is August 22, 2019. Native American women earn $0.58 for every dollar, and their equal pay day is September 23, 2019. And Latinas earn $0.53 for every dollar and must work almost two years (November 20), to earn what is made in one year by white non-Hispanic men.
And finally, mothers make $0.69 compared to fathers, so this year, Mother’s Day falls on June 10th. As a working mother, with two 14 year olds, I am painfully aware of the many challenges, we continue to face in the work world. In many ways our society is built on the strength of the family. However, much of the burden of caring and developing the family, continues to fall solely to women. Furthermore, rigidity and inflexibility in the work environment result in fewer opportunities to advance professionally and, to cap it off, a lower salary as compared to similarly situated men. In 2016, a report released by the Senate Joint Economic Committee described a phenomena they called the “mommy penalty” where women with children often earn less after returning to the workforce, while the opposite is true for working fathers. Salary suppression then follows women from job to job, and, according to NCPE, this disparity costs the average American woman and her family $700,000 to $2 million in lost wages over a working lifetime.
And it doesn’t matter where you work, or if you have a college education, the National Women’s Law Center tells us that women at all education levels experience a wage gap, and the gender wage gap exists in 97% of occupations.
So, Happy Mother’s Day when it comes around. I cherish the opportunity to celebrate my mother and all mothers around the world. And as a mother myself, I certainly appreciate the sentiment, but for those of us in the workforce, we are still trying to overcome.