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These Equal Pay Day numbers are truly shocking and unfair

Rebecca Bracken is a news and views writer.






It's time for women to finally stand up and demand equal pay for equal work — here's why

Happy Equal Pay Day, ladies. Well, maybe not "happy," exactly.

Today, April 14, marks how many additional days a woman would have needed to work in 2014 to earn the same as her male colleagues last year. To put it another way, it only took 365 days for a man to earn what it would take you 469 days to earn thanks to the wage gap of about 22 cents an hour.

That sucks so hard.

Women get a lot of lip service about closing the wage gap, but there's been little progress. Over the past 50 years, the U.S. Department of Labor reports the wage gap has closed by only 19 percent.

It's time for women to finally stand up and demand equal pay for equal work — here's why

Image: Giphy

Congress could close the gap today once and for all with legislation demanding parity in pay for the sexes. Fat chance of that happening anytime soon. It's not that our government doesn't know we aren't being treated fairly; it's just that it doesn't care all that much. But once again, in this year's State of the Union, President Obama gave the ladies the obligatory shout-out.

"Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work," Obama said. "It's 2015. It's time."

Yeah, it is time, and we're waiting.

Here are a few numbers to help you wrap your head around the issue:

2058

At our current rate of progress, women and men won't reach parity in pay until 2058. How many of us will still be in the workforce in 2058?

$10,000

That's the average difference between what the sexes earn on average each year. Women earn about $38,000, while men earn about $48,000. What would you buy with an extra $10,000? A vacay? Better schools for your kids? A nicer house? Would you go back to school? That's $10,000 every year. Stats show the average woman retires at age 62 in the U.S. So if a chick started in the workforce full time at 22, that's a whopping extra $400,000 men will earn over the same career, on average. Nearly half a million dollars.

2.2

Men are 2.2 times more likely to work in high-paying STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Women instead tend to take on lower-paying careers, where there is still a pervasive wage gap. For instance, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 81 percent of all elementary and middle school teachers are women, and yet they still earn an average of $937 per week compared to a man in the same profession, who earns an average of $1,025 per week. So here, women get slapped with a double whammy — they take on lower-paying jobs in higher numbers, and yet they still earn less than men in the same job.

40 percent

That's the percentage of U.S. households with children that rely on a woman as the sole or primary breadwinner. That means nearly half of kids in the United States have fewer resources than they should as a result of the wage gap.

$10 vs. $60

This is the amount Sarah Silverman got paid versus her fellow stand-up Todd Barry for back-to-back gigs at the same club. Here's her story and what she thinks we need to do about it.

So what can we do?

  1. Demand national wage fairness legislation, and vote for candidates who support equal pay.
  2. Talk about wage disparity openly, because it's not a secret. Anyone else remember Patricia Arquette's Oscar's speech?
  3. Encourage our girls to pursue high-paying, high-satisfaction jobs in STEM and other fields in which women are underrepresented.
  4. Ask for what you're worth. Ask for a raise, become a tough negotiator on your own behalf, and challenge your employers when you find out you're being paid less than your male colleagues. Sarah Silverman and Charlize Theron are two high-profile women leading the charge.

More on equal pay for women

Are women more likely to pursue lower-paying roles?
How Charlize Theron just crushed the financial gender gap
What's next for women now that equal pay laws are set to change in the UK?

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