Gear Up for Equal Pay Day with These Weekly ActionsFebruary 28, 2017
Would you like to work at least 15 months for the same paycheck your male coworker received in just 12 months? Well, if you’re a woman odds are you already do.
Equal Pay Day — which takes place Tuesday, April 4, this year — is the symbolic day when women’s pay finally “catches up” to the wages that men took home the previous year. The date represents the fact that women working full time, year-round in the United States typically are paid just 80 percent of what men are paid, or a gap of 20 percent. (AAUW also observes the equal pay days in March for Asian American women, in August for African American women, in September for Native American women, and in October for Latina women.)
Missing 20 percent or more of a paycheck is a hard hit. Think about how that loss of wages adds up over a lifetime, and we’re talking about losing a substantial chunk of change — change that could have greatly aided women and their families. The pay gap is closing but at a glacial pace. At the current rate, women won’t achieve equal pay until 2152. Women and families can’t afford to wait that long, nor can we risk rolling back the progress that has been made on equal pay.
Luckily, Equal Pay Day is the perfect opportunity to organize action to close the gender pay gap. If you’re looking for ways to take action and speed up progress, you’ve come to the right place. Each week until April 4 we’ll share a new action for observing Equal Pay Day and provide more tips and tools for how you can help ensure that women are paid fairly.
March 27–April 2
The best way to add some sweetness to an otherwise bitter day? With cake! Each year, AAUW members and student leaders host dozens of equal pay-themed bake sales at campuses and community centers across the country, providing delicious treats at a discount to symbolize the pay gap — either 20 percent off, a discount varied by race, or a price localized to match the pay gap for women in a specific state or district. Take it a step further and cut out part of the treat to help illustrate the loss of the pay gap. (Everyone wants the whole pie, not just part!) Another clever spin is to add an educational note about the pay gap to PayDay candy bars and pass them out while tabling or gift them to state legislators.
But don’t let the sugar rush die down there. An easy lift is to encourage local community members to wear red to symbolize that women are still “in the red” because of the pay gap. If you’re tabling or hosting an event (AAUW’s national office hosts our famous (un)happy hour each year), then engage attendees with fun props and activities. One idea is to create an enlarged $10 bill, edit it to read $8 (womp womp), include a cutout for a woman’s face, and take and share photos to gain even more visibility for your message. Do you have more creative ideas to organize to close the pay gap? E-mail us — we want to hear them!
Get That Money, Honey
Don’t leave money on the table! Our AAUW Start Smart and Work Smart programs empower women with skills and confidence to successfully negotiate their starting salaries, raises, or promotions. By learning key strategies, participants gain valuable skills they can use throughout their lives — and the monetary benefits add up over time. You can help in a number of ways! Bring a workshop to your campus or community. Sign up to become an AAUW salary negotiation ambassador to help spread the word, or train to become an AAUW salary negotiation facilitator so that you can take the reins in empowering women. We know that salary negotiation alone won’t close the gender pay gap, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Exercise Your Media Muscles
Another cost-effective way to raise awareness for equal pay is to utilize traditional and social media channels. Your media efforts can lead to new members, access to key stakeholders and decision makers, and increased visibility in your community. All it takes is time! Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed to your local paper talking about the need for pay equity in your state and the country. Employ AAUW resources to regionalize your article with local statistics and policies as well as injecting your own story and expertise.
Planning an Equal Pay Day event? Increase its impact and reach by inviting local media to cover it and offering expert interviews to really get your message across. Don’t have time to write an article or plan an event? Get online! Use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to join the conversation, connect with decision makers, and discuss potential solutions to closing the gender pay gap from anywhere in the world. All it takes is some creativity, time, and an Internet connection. Start planning now and check out these AAUW resources in order to create an in-depth, strategic, and targeted communications plan for Equal Pay Day and beyond!
Get Your Neighbors Talking
Most people have heard of the gender pay gap, but not everyone understands what it means or how deeply it affects women, from student debt to motherhood to leadership barriers. Use Equal Pay Day as an opportunity to start a dialogue in your community! Organize an issue forum, town hall, panel discussion, or virtual event to share educational information and inspire action. Tabling is another key way to gain visibility around the gender pay gap. Start recruiting volunteers and searching for a high-traffic area where you can perform outreach to mark Equal Pay Day.
February 27–March 5
Loop in Your Legislator!
Never underestimate the power of your voice. Not only is civic engagement essential to a healthy democracy, but that interaction between constituents and elected representatives can also change minds, policies, and laws. AAUW is working to advance equal pay legislation in Congress and in statehouses around the country. It’s crucial that your elected officials understand the effect of the gender pay gap on women and families in your state, and it’s up to you to deliver that message!
Send a message to Congress urging action to close loopholes in existing federal law and strengthen protections for working women. You can also organize a meeting with your state legislators to share your specific state’s road map for pay equity and encourage action; our how-to guide on meeting with elected officials will show you the ropes. Other effective strategies include organizing a local petition drive and urging elected officials to issue an official proclamation for Equal Pay Day. With just a little bit of effort, you can encourage lawmakers to act on equal pay.
Become a Two-Minute Activist
Want more opportunities to take action for gender equity?
You’ve probably heard that men are paid more than women are paid. But what does that mean?
Find resources to guide your advocacy efforts.
How do your state and district stack up?