By Aisha Huertas Michel, Director, Patricia M. Arnold Women’s Rights Project
April 8 is Equal Pay Day, the symbolic day into 2014 a woman must work to earn as much as a man did in 2013 alone. On average women in the United States today still earn just 77 cents for every dollar that men earn and that is cause for concern. The wage gap needs to decrease and we are working hard to ensure that it will soon decrease for Virginia’s women.
In 2010, the typical woman in the Commonwealth working full time, year round was paid only 79 cents to every dollar paid to a man working full time. The wage gap is even more substantial for African American and Hispanic women. White, non-Hispanic women working full time, year round in Virginia were paid only 75 cents to every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men working full time, year round. However, African-American women working full time, year round in Virginia were paid only 59 cents and Hispanic women only 56 cents, to every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men who worked full time, year round. Furthermore, the wage gap persists at all levels of education and across occupations.
Though women in Virginia are earning more cents on the dollar than women in other states, they deserve to earn the same amount of money a man makes for equal work. We want no more and no less.
The injustice of lesser pay is particularly troubling in an economic climate where approximately 40 percent of women are acting as the primary breadwinners in their households and more than 60 percent are breadwinners or co-breadwinners. We need concrete and immediate action to improve the economic security of working families, which is critical to the nation’s economic recovery.
As we mark this day, we issue a call to action for all women to continue fighting for that which they deserve and have rightfully earned. We ask our legislators to take notice and take action. We will not settle for less than equal pay for equal work.