The Susan B. Anthony Center at the University of Rochester has joined a national effort to mark Equal Pay Day.
The center’s event, slated for today, calls attention to the 91 extra days, or 80 extra minutes each day, that women need to work on average to match men’s wages from the year before. Equal Pay Day is usually commemorated on a Tuesday. The Center’s initiative is a collaboration with UR’s Office for Faculty Development and Diversity; the Office of Staff Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the Medical Center’s Office for Inclusion and Culture Development; and the Office of Human Resources.
“We hope to call attention to the systemic inequities in how we think about and value the contributions of women, both as wage earners who deserve equity and as people who often take the lead in child care, household chores, and other duties,” says Catherine Cerulli, a professor of psychiatry and the director of the center. “Our goal is not only to make people aware of the inequities but also to give them ideas for how to think about ways to enact change.”
Equal Pay Day is a national effort to promote pay equity for women of all backgrounds, and people of all races. According to the National Women’s Law Center, women working full time, year-round typically make only 80 cents for every dollar a man makes and the size of the disparity varies by state. In New York, women earn 87.9 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. Women fare best in California, where women working full time, all year typically make 89 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. In Louisiana and Utah, women fare the worst relative to men, at 69 and 71 percent of men’s earnings, respectively.
Equal Pay Day was coined by the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages. In its take on the event, the Susan B. Anthony Center’s awareness campaign’s theme #EXTRA80 attempts to do the same. Campus and community coffee shops are partnering with the center to raise awareness by offering women a 20 percent discount on select beverages this morning. Items will be priced according to the gender pay gap. Participating locations include the West Winds Café in the Saunders Research Building Atrium and all Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters shops, including three locations at the Medical Center.
The Susan B. Anthony Center has posted a list of ideas for people to consider as a way to advocate for pay equity for all.
The ideas include:
- Work an extra 80 minutes in support of female colleagues of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.
- Work an extra 80 minutes at home (given that women typically work more at home on household tasks and child care).
- Volunteer 80 minutes at an organization that furthers the health and wellness of those who face disparities.
- Donate $80 to organizations that promote equity for people of all genders, races, and ethnic backgrounds.
- Reach out on social media—to at least 80 people—to publicize equal pay issues.
- Charge women only 80 percent for goods and services on Equal Pay Day to highlight the difference in pay for men and women.
- Spend 80 minutes researching the gender pay gap in your organization, community, state, or country for women, and people of color.
- Host a forum and invite 80 people to learn how pay equity can improve productivity and the bottom line for individuals, communities, and organizations.
Other groups in Rochester also are marking Equal Pay Day. The local chapter of the National Organization for Women has organized a rally. It’s theme: Wearing green to signify equal money for all.
The premise of “Extra80” is false. The differences in pay between men and women are explained almost entirely by choices workers make: different jobs, different willingness to work overtime, different commitments outside of work (including taking years off for children), different attitudes toward pay negotiation, and the like. There are probably some small differences due to residual effects of past discrimination, and occasional new discriminatory acts, but these are dwarfed by legitimate, worker-controlled (or at least non-employer-controlled) differences. Unfortunately, some have a vested interest in claiming the victim label, and they misuse statistics to do so. Encouraging discrimination against men (“20% off for women”) is a call for injustice, not equality.