How to “Celebrate” Equal Pay Day
Equal Pay Day is the symbolic day when women’s earnings “catch up” to men’s earnings from the previous year. It’s also a powerful occasion to raise awareness about and organize action around the gender pay gap in your community. We need your help to organize AAUW Equal Pay Day activities in all 50 states!
What You Should Know about AAUW and Equal Pay Policy
The gender pay gap is a primary issue for AAUW, and one that we have been working on for years. As early as 1922, AAUW’s legislative program called for a reclassification of the U.S. Civil Service and repeal of salary restrictions in the Women’s Bureau. In 1955, AAUW supported a bill introduced by Reps. Edith Green (D-OR) and Edith Rogers (R-MA) requiring “equal pay for work of comparable value requiring comparable skills.” Congress finally enacted the Equal Pay Act, a version of the 1955 bill, in 1963.
Despite the Equal Pay Act, the wage gap persists; women are typically paid just 80 cents on average for every dollar paid to men — and that number has barely budged in a decade. Although enforcement of the Equal Pay Act and other civil rights laws has helped to narrow the wage gap, significant disparities still must be addressed.
To improve the scope of the Equal Pay Act, AAUW advocates passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. This would give employers stronger incentives to follow the law, enhance federal enforcement efforts, and prohibit retaliation against workers asking about wage practices.
AAUW promotes Equal Pay Day to draw attention to the gender pay gap and build support for the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Think 80 cents is bad? The pay gap is even worse for women of color. AAUW also observes Asian American Women’s Equal Pay Day in March, African American Women’s Equal Pay Day in August, Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day in September, and Latina Equal Pay Day in November.
6 Easy Ideas for Marking Equal Pay Day
1. Urge your elected officials to act on Equal Pay Day.
What: AAUW is working to advance equal pay legislation in state houses around the country. If your state legislature is considering equal pay legislation, contact your elected officials on Equal Pay Day to ask them to co-sponsor the bills. If no such legislation exists in your state or municipality, you can ask your governor, mayor, and/or city council member to issue a proclamation declaring Equal Pay Day. At AAUW’s request, local governments in California, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Wisconsin proclaimed Equal Pay Day in 2012. You can also encourage your members of Congress to take action on equal pay by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Do now: Identify the contact information (e-mail, phone number) for your elected officials. You’ll likely need to follow up on your initial request, so give yourself plenty of time to make the ask.
Plan for later: If a public official in your community agrees to issue an Equal Pay Day proclamation, consider partnering with her or him on gaining media coverage for the proclamation and AAUW’s role in issuing it!
2. Host an “unequal” bake sale or (un)happy hour.
What: Use a fun, social environment to raise awareness and provoke conversation about fair pay! At these events, men will pay full price for the goods while women get a 20 percent discount (one percent for each cent of the gender pay gap).
Do now: Location, location, location! Find a public space where you can host a bake sale and make sure the goods you sell are priced according to the wage gap. You can also contact local establishments and ask them to partner with you to give women the (un)happy hour special price of 21 percent off the price they are charging men. Even without special pricing, you can use a social event as an opportunity to invite members of the public to learn about Equal Pay Day. This event will also provide a great recruitment opportunity for your branch.
Plan for later: Ask a representative of your AAUW branch to provide brief remarks about Equal Pay Day; plan to make equal pay-related materials, such as Action Network sign-up sheets and copies of The Simple Truth, available to attendees. If you’re hosting a bake sale, don’t forget to recruit bakers early!
3. Launch an equal pay media blitz.
What: Write and submit letters to the editor and op-eds to a variety of publications in your state to gain broad coverage on Equal Pay Day.
Do now: Recruit supporters to write, and ask branch members, coalition partners, prospective new members, and student organizations to pledge to participate. The more voices that are represented — and the more varied they are — the better!
Plan for later: Identify news outlets and reporters who might be interested in covering Equal Pay Day, and make a calendar of their submission deadlines so that you can plan ahead. Consider hosting a time for participants to gather to write their letters and op-eds.
4. Host an issue forum in your community.
What: Issue forums are community dialogues on current AAUW issues and usually take the form of a panel discussion, with time for questions and answers. Use Equal Pay Day as an opportunity to host a forum on fair pay.
Do now: Brainstorm speakers to invite to participate in your forum; think of people who have demonstrated knowledge or personal experience on the topic of equal pay. You may also consider inviting city, state, or federal elected officials. Work with diverse organizations, as working in coalitions allows you to reach more people, increase AAUW membership, and gain additional exposure.
Plan for later: Equal pay will be a critical issue in the 2016 elections, so set up a separate table for voter registration at your forum. If you have Internet access at your event, you can use AAUW’s online voter registration tool.
5. Bring AAUW salary negotiations workshops to your community/campus.
What: AAUW’s Work Smart and Start Smart salary negotiation workshops empower women in the workforce and on campus with the skills and confidence they need to successfully negotiate their salary and benefits. Use Equal Pay Day to train women how to attack the pay gap head on.
Do now: Host a two-hour AAUW Work Smart workshop in your community and/or get your local college to hold an AAUW Start Smart workshop for students.
Plan for later: Become an AAUW salary negotiation ambassador by helping to recruit campuses or organizations to hold an AAUW Start Smart or AAUW Work Smart workshop. Get trained to be an AAUW salary negotiation facilitator and deliver programs on local campuses and at local organizations
6. Get Creative!
What: Have another idea or want to try something new? The possibilities for engaging events and activities are limitless and the AAUW policy team is here to help. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for help with brainstorming or event support.
3 Ways to Take Any Equal Pay Day to the Next Level
1. Use your event as a civic engagement opportunity.
Equal Pay Day events provide an opportunity to raise awareness about AAUW’s public policy issues with elected officials and candidates and remind community members about the importance of voting. Incorporate civic engagement into your Equal Pay Day activities by
- Registering voters at your event.
Just be sure to place voter registration materials on a separate table from AAUW and issue materials. See our how-to guide and make use of AAUW’s online voter registration tool if you have an Internet connection and computer!
- Inviting a city, state, or federal elected official to speak at your event.
We’ll help you draft a speaker invitation if you need it.
- Asking your local officials to spread the news about Equal Pay Day.
Use our sample proclamation.
2. Recruit and develop new AAUW members.
Whether you plan to host an issue forum, bake sale, happy hour, or rally, opening your Equal Pay Day event to the public will attract prospective AAUW members. Maximize this recruitment opportunity by
- Spending a few minutes introducing AAUW.
Set aside a short portion of the event (no more than five minutes) for an AAUW leader to explain what AAUW is, describe the benefits of membership, and encourage people to join. You can offer membership discounts through the Shape the Future campaign. If everyone in your branch brings just one friend, you can double your membership just like that!
- Handing out swag!
Have AAUW’s recruitment brochures on hand, along with stickers, public policy brochures, and other materials requested through the Upcoming Advocacy Events Form or purchased through ShopAAUW.
- Following up with attendees.
AAUW’s Action Network sign-up sheets can double as a way to take attendance and engage people in our advocacy. Follow up with new contacts to invite them to future branch meetings or events.
3. Engage AAUW college/university partners, students, and working women in your community.
Host your event on campus.
Our research shows that the gender pay gap starts just one year after college graduation, so your local campus is a perfect place to take your Equal Pay Day activities! Activities like tabling, issue forums, and “unequal” bake sales are well-suited to a college audience. Think creatively about engaging students!
Connect with AAUW college and university partners and student organizations.
Search our online directory to see if your local institution is an AAUW college/university partner member and find out if they have an AAUW student organization. If they’re already involved with AAUW, find out what their Equal Pay Day plans are and how you can collaborate with them and other allies on campus. If they’re new to AAUW, invite them to join your event, and make sure you follow up about the benefits of C/U membership.
Host an AAUW Smart Start salary negotiation workshop on campus.
Find out if a salary negotiation workshop is happening in your community in April, or follow these steps to bring a workshop to your school or organization. A salary negotiation event can be a part of a full day or full week of Equal Pay Day activities.
Host an AAUW Work Smart salary negotiation workshop for the working women in your community.
Empower women to negotiate for better jobs, salaries, benefits, and promotions. This two-hour workshop will give them the skills they need now and can use throughout their careers. To host a workshop, e-mail email@example.com.
The gender pay gap is real, and it hurts women and families. Take action today.
Use these resources to guide you in advocating for women and girls through a variety of tactics and actions.
The original report explains the pay gap in the United States; how it affects women of all ages, races, and education levels; and what you can do to close it.