This Equal Pay Day, women face additional burdens due to the pandemic
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Today is Equal Pay Day for women. It marks how long into 2021 the average woman would have to work in order to earn the same income as the average man did in 2020. In other words, it represents the reality of the gender pay gap in America.
The economic fallout of the pandemic hit women much harder than men. And yet, oddly enough, the pay gap tightened, said C. Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
“And the reason for that is that we saw an enormous amount of job loss in lower-wage sectors for women,” Mason said.
Many women who work in restaurants and hotels and services lost their jobs, and that meant the women who were still working had higher incomes, which slightly narrowed the wage gap.
But, when you break down the data further, “we do fear that where the pay gap is already wide — for example, for Black women and Latinas — that we may see a widening of that gap,” said Gloria Blackwell at the American Association of University Women.
This all translates into an even bigger issue, according to Heather McCulloch, founder and executive director of the group Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap.
“We know, going into the pandemic, that women of color actually owned pennies on the dollar compared to white men and white women,” McCulloch said.
She expects that to worsen post-pandemic, unless companies work hard to bring women back into the labor force.
Tracy Stone is director of the Tech Women @ Intuit Initiative, which works to reemploy women in the tech industry. She said addressing the wage gap is one part, but “it also means the day-to-day pieces of supporting a culture of inclusion and enabling flexibility, enabling our employees to bring their whole selves to work,” once women and the rest of the folks out of work can get back to work.
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