More Equal Pay Days: Native American Women and Latinas

Can you believe that it is already the middle of October? Where did the time go? For some people, it may feel as though the year flew past in a blur. For others, the time may have dragged on. This feeling may be particularly true if you are a Latina or Native American woman coping with financial struggles, trying to make ends meet. October 21st is the last Equal Pay Day of the year—and it belongs to Latinas. Equal Pay Day denotes how far into the new year women must work to be paid what men were paid the previous year. September 8th was the Equal Pay Day for Native American and Alaska Native women. Whenever you speak about Equal Pay Day, you must speak in the plural. That’s because all women experience a pay gap. However, Latinas face one of the widest pay disparities of any group of women—earning on average just 55 cents for every dollar a white man earns. At the current rate of progress, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) estimates that Latinas will not see equal pay until the year 2220 —nearly 200 years from now!  

The National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) founded Equal Pay Day in 1996 to raise awareness about the gender wage gap. (It was initially called “National Pay Inequity Awareness Day” and changed to Equal Pay Day in 1998.) Typically, we acknowledge Equal Pay Day in March or April each year. Other Equal Pay Days have been added to the calendar to recognize that mothers and most women of color face a wider-than-average gap and need to work even longer to catch up to men’s earnings. There are a variety of different strategies that could significantly increase pay parity between men and women. This article suggests nine strategies for narrowing the gender pay gap. Some possibilities include promoting pay transparency, expanding paid family and medical leave, and improving work-life balance.  We know the United States has a long way to go to close the gender pay gap. There may not be one quick fix to make the situation disappear. The article asserts that the suggested strategies may result in more equitable working conditions and fair, transparent pay structures for all workers, regardless of gender.