Equal Pay Day

This year, Equal Pay Day is Tuesday, March 14, 2023. This date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Equal Pay Day was first originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages. Because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer into the next year for the same amount of pay men earned in the previous year. Tuesday was selected to represent how far into the workweek women must work to earn what men earned the previous week. Although all women lag behind men, data shows that among full-time workers, African American, Latina and Native American women had lower median weekly earnings than White women and Asian women. 

Why should libraries celebrate this day? Pay equity is all about making sure people are being paid fairly throughout the library/organization. At its most basic level, it means that two people doing the same work are compensated equally regardless of gender, ethnicity, or any other factor. As a female-dominated profession (over 85%), pay equity is an issue that affects all library workers. When women’s wages are raised, the entire library workforce benefits. The point is not necessarily to celebrate but to recognize that there is a pay gap and to continue working to close it.

In discussing the difference between gender equality and equity, this article suggests that “we need to move beyond gender equality. Instead, we must seek equity, which focuses on giving extra support to those who need it to achieve equal outcomes.” The author believes that “the goal isn’t to just eliminate the gap… but to increase the success of all groups. Removing the barriers to success for women helps everyone.”

If you’re interested in learning more, or advocating for equal pay, consider becoming active in the ALA-APA Salaries and Status of Library Workers (SSLW) committee and/or one of its subcommittees.

Note: ALA was one of NCPE’s charter members and currently, ALA-APA is one of its ninety-four (94) organizational members.