While Equal Pay Day was celebrated by many as a time to shed light on the pay gap between men and women in the workplace, a conservative women’s advocacy group argued it imparted on women that they’re lesser than their male counterparts.
Created by the National Committee on Pay Equity, a Tuesday in April was selected as Equal Pay Day because it represented how far into the next week women had to work to earn as much as men. In 2018, April 2 represented the point in the year when the average woman’s pay caught up to what the average man made in 2018, according to the National Women’s Law Center.
Several people pointed out that when it comes to equal pay, it’s critical that the discussion also involves disparities between minority women and white women. When compared to the dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, the National Women’s Law Center found:
- Asian women made 85 cents
- White women made 77 cents
- Latina women made 53 cents
- Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women made 62 cents
- Black women made 61 cents
- Native American women made 58 cents
- Latina women made 53 cents
Not everyone was quick to champion the dedicated day and lambast the gender wage gap, though. The Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), a conservative non-profit advocacy group that focuses on policies affecting women, said they couldn’t get behind Equal Pay Day, calling it a “misleading effort” to make women feel they’re being “short-changed” at the workplace.
"It is meant to make women feel like they are victims of an overwhelmingly sexist system," IWF President Carrie Lukas told Newsweek. "I don't think this is a good or empowering message. This doesn't help women."
Lukas said that Equal Pay Day implies the goal should be that men and women earn the exact same amount. However, she argued that in the real world, a job is about more than just a salary, it's about the overall package. She noted a woman isn't making a bad decision if she takes a pay cut to work in a field she loves or at a job that allows her to spend time with her family or achieve other goals.
"She may be prioritizing aspects of life other than earning money. That may be a very good decision for her," Lukas said. "We shouldn't be creating the sense that if the statistics aren't exactly the same that's something is wrong."
The organization noted that both wage discrimination and “baseless gender discrimination” are illegal and said proponents of the wage gap use a misleading interpretation of wage data. IWF claimed the data didn’t compare men and women with the same jobs, experience, training or hours that were worked.
“Instead, we should champion greater opportunities, flexibility, and freedom so women can choose how, when, and where we work,” IWF said.
While the IWF argued that the wage gap was comparing apples and oranges, the Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit that researches and analyzes the economic impact of policies, claimed regardless of race, ethnicity, education, age and location, women are paid less.
The organization debunked two “myths,” surrounding the wage gap conversation—that women choose low paying jobs and if they want to be paid more they should have a better education and skills.
For myth one, the Economic Policy Institute argued that regardless of whether it’s a male-dominated or women-dominated field, women were paid less in almost every occupation. The think tank claimed female pre-school and kindergarten teachers were paid about three dollars less than male teachers. In nursing, the gap was about two dollars and female software developers were paid on average seven dollars less.
The Economic Policy Institute also found that women were paid less at every level of education and women with advanced degrees were paid a dollar less than men with four-year degrees.
“There is no silver bullet to solving pay equity, but rather a menu of policy options,” the Economic Policy Institute said.
Among the solutions to closing the wage gap, the organization pointed to the Paycheck Fairness Act, requiring federal reporting of pay by gender, race and ethnicity and prohibiting employers from asking about pay history.