Working for Justice

Why 20-Somethings Should Care About Equal Pay (and your Equal Pay Day Playlist!)

Posted April 12th, 2016 by in Wages and Overtime Law.

If you’ve been on social media today, you probably know that it’s Equal Pay Day. Congratulations, ladies: we’re trending on Twitter (far ahead of #NationalGrilledCheeseDay). And now that we’re a solid four months into 2016, the average woman’s earnings have finally caught up to what the average man made…in 2015.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard the oft-repeated statistic: 53 years after the Equal Pay Act, women in America still only earn on average 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. The so-called #wagegap is drastically worse for women of color.  The gap affects women of all backgrounds, industries, education levels, and ages.

Of course, we’ve made progress toward pay equity in the past 53 years, but not enough.  If trends continue, women won’t achieve pay equity until 2059, when I’m 67. (I don’t want to do the math on the hit my 401(k) will take relative to my guy friends, but I’m guessing it won’t be pretty.) Yikes.

Part of the problem is that many young women don’t accept that gender discrimination is a real, affect-your-bank-account thing.  When I graduated college and started my first job, I didn’t think about whether my male colleagues were earning more than me and my girlfriends. After all, the women in my life are brilliant, creative, and hyper-qualified–in fact, women are now more likely to hold college degrees than men.  I knew women made less than men on average, but I figured that the gap would only emerge when we started having families. I was wrong. In 2013 women between the ages of 18 and 34 earned 87 cents on the dollar.  And the gap starts widening quickly after age 30.

So what can you do? Grab your friends and start talking about this. Click the links in your feeds today and learn more about how the pay gap impacts us on all kinds of scales, including the national GDP. Register to vote. Take time to learn about the political candidates’ views on equal pay and other issues facing women.  Learn what to look for in the workplace and some of your basic rights and remedies here. Looking for a new job? Make sure you negotiate your salary, even if you’re only a couple years out of college.

And should you need a playlist for your equal pay/general girl bossing endeavors, I’ve got you covered. I am a millennial, after all.

Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP

Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP is a nationwide litigation law firm with offices in New York, Washington, DC, San Francisco, San Diego, Nashville, and Baltimore. We represent individuals against powerful interests. We act as a private attorney general in support of the private and public good. Learn More

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