America’s gender wage gap has been an increasingly hot topic in this political climate, perhaps peaking during the 2016 election cycle. There is still a strikingly noticeable gap between genders. In 2016, according to Census data, overall women make 80 cents to every white male dollar earned. Black and Latino women earned 63 and 54 cents to every white male dollar, respectively. And in 2015, Native American women made approximately 57.7 cents to every white male dollar for full-time jobs.
While Trump has made contradictory and bad statements regarding equal pay, he is also receiving outside pressure to roll back Obama-era requirements for big employers to produce wage data based on race, gender and ethnicity. When Obama made the requirement, there was hope that the transparency would diminish wage discrimination. In our next action plan, we will explain the future impact of this issue and ways we can address it.
Trump has also revoked Obama’s 2014 “Fair Play and Safe Workplaces” order, designed to ensure that companies with federal contracts comply with civil rights laws. This order specifically protects transparency and prohibits forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination claims that can deprive workers of rights they would otherwise have in court.
With the recent moves by this Administration, women are less protected in the workplace despite significant efforts to combat gender-based socialization and pay inequity. The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee found many factors contributing to the pay gap, including up to 40% of it being gender discrimination. Transgender women have been found to earn a third less after their gender transition, according to a 2008 B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy study. Enacting policies that protect women in all work places will narrow a gap that is not expected to close at the current rate until 2059.
The report noted that women of color stand to lose more in this battle. The typical Black woman will earn $877,000 less than the typical white man over the course of 40 years while the typical Latina(x) will earn $1,007,000. Native American women will lose $934,240 due to the wage gap. Because of this, women of color are more likely to live in poverty after the age of 65, jeopardizing retirement security.
Who Is Trying to Help?
- The National Committee on Pay Equity: http://www.pay-equity.org/about.html
- National Action Program: http://now.org/resource/women-deserve-equal-pay-factsheet/
- WAGE Project: http://www.wageproject.org
- AAUW: http://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/public-policy/aauw-issues/gender-pay-gap/
Why Do We Care?
Many organizations deal with this issue. TREE not only seeks to create visibility in the pay disparity for all women but specifically plans to address the comparatively larger pay gap and discriminatory issues for women of color.
How Can You Help?
- Advocate for higher federal and state minimum wage. Though many states have higher minimum wages, most states do not require livable minimum wage.
Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Federal minimum wage is currently $7.24. In May, democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca), introduced legislation to raise minimum wage to $15.00 by 2024. The bill is unlikely to advance with the Republican controlled Congress but it is imperative to track the supporters and apply pressure during the next election cycle.
- Advocate for reinstatement of Executive policies
While the Trump administration may be in no hurry to reinstate transparency and protective policies, it is an issue to keep at the forefront so that the 2020 presidential candidates are fully aware.
- Advocate for paid family leave
Women will stay in the workforce longer if they have the security of paid family leave. The Center for American Progress found that “women lose a total of $274,044 and men lose a total of $233,716 in lifetime wages and Social Security benefits by leaving the labor force early due to care-giving responsibilities.”
- Advocate for affordable childcare
Although we do not want to imply that childcare only impacts women, as HuffPost points out, “When women — especially women making minimum wage — have access to affordable childcare, they’re able to stay in the workforce longer.”
- Advocate for better and consistent data for transgender women. Data for transgender women is often out of date and unreliable. However, to have a clear picture in how the gender gap impacts all women, including transgender women, we must consider safe ways to collect this information.