By Carlo Versano
Tuesday was Equal Pay Day in the U.S., chosen because as the 92nd day of 2019, it's how far into the year a woman must work to earn what her male counterpart earned the prior year, on average.
It's "simply discrimination," said Toni Van Pelt, the president of the National Organization for Women (NOW). "It's taking us over three months on average to earn the same amount of money."
The gender pay gap varies by industry and by demographics. White women earn on average 77 cents on the dollar. Minority women, such as African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinas earn 61 cents, 58 cents, and 53 cents on the dollar, respectively.
But there's reason to be optimistic, Van Pelt said. "Women are becoming more assertive and more aggressive and they're speaking out."
And there's movement on the legislative front as well. Last year, California enacted a law that companies headquartered in the state must have at least one woman on their corporate board.
But that's not enough, according to Van Pelt. "We need to have three voices in the room for this to matter," she said, noting that it's too easy for one ー or even two ー female voices to get drowned out or ignored in a boardroom setting.
The NOW president credited the #MeToo movement for putting issues of workplace inequality into the mainstream. Even women who aren't harassed too often have to navigate around implicit biases and roadblocks to promotions, which is why it's so critical that businesses make it a priority to mentor their young female employees, Van Pelt said. "As women are afforded these opportunities... they speak up."
"But we need men to stand up and speak out for women," she said.
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