Equal Pay Day

By Sian Brannon

“Equal Pay Day” is a date noted each year that symbolizes the time during the year when women will have finally earned the same as white men from the previous year. Typically in spring, it takes approximately 15 months for a (white) woman to earn as much as a white man earned in 12 months. The first Equal Pay Day was recognized by the National Pay Inequity Awareness Day proclamation by President Bill Clinton on April 11, 1996.

Not only is there an Equal Pay Day to illuminate the overall discrepancy in wage, but many more specific Equal Pay Days exist as well. Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, generally in August, shows how much lower they are paid than white men. Native American Women’s Pay Day (September) and Latina’s Equal Pay Day (October) happen even later in the year, highlighting the contemptible gap. 

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research indicates that the wage gap for white women won’t close until 2059. For Black women, it will happen in 2130, and the gap for Hispanic women won’t close until 2224.

Equal Pay Day for 2022 is March 15. The National Committee on Pay Equity has a Kit that you can use to promote this event. It includes sample letters to the editor, some legislative background, and a proclamation for recognizing this important day. They also suggest wearing red to show how much women, especially minority women, are “in the red” compared to white males’ wages.

Why should libraries and library workers acknowledge this day? As a female-dominated profession (over 85%), pay equity is an issue that affects all library workers regardless of gender. The ALA-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) advocates for equal pay for library workers by suggesting best practices for human resource professionals, offering salary negotiation workshops, providing complimentary access to salary data for ALA members, and providing resources on the APA website. When we work for fair pay for women, all library workers benefit.

Sian Brannon serves as chair of the ALA-APA Salaries and Status of Library Workers (SSLW) Committee and is Associate Dean for Collection Management at the University of North Texas Library in Denton, TX.