Congratulations, average working women of the United States! After working an extra 102 days of this year, you have finally closed the gap between what the average man earned last year and what you did. Equal pay, at long last.
April 12 is the ironically named Equal Pay Day — the date symbolizes the extra days into the current year that a woman working full-time would have to labor in order to make as much as her male counterpart did the previous year. A frequently cited statistic is that women earn 79 cents for every man's dollar; breaking that down reveals other and sometimes wider disparities.
Asian-American women make 84 cents for every dollar that white men do -- better than the average working woman. But African-American women make 60 cents, while Hispanic women make barely over half what white men do, at just 55 cents for their every dollar.
The disparity is pretty much ubiquitous, but it's worse in some occupations than in others, median earnings data from the U.S. Census Bureau show. In 2014, women in business and finance on average made 76.4 percent of what their male colleagues did; female healthcare workers made 72 percent of their male coworkers' earnings — the disparity was even greater among physicians and surgeons, at 70.9 percent — and in sales jobs, the gap was especially wide, with women earning 63.5 percent of what men did.
— U.S. Census Bureau (@uscensusbureau) April 12, 2016
The non-holiday dates back to 1996, when the National Committee on Pay Equity held the first Equal Pay Day to generate public awareness about the gap between male and female wages.
This year, Equal Pay Day comes hot on the heels of a high-profile wage discrimination complaint filed last month by the U.S. women's national team against the U.S. Soccer organization. It pointed out that the top five players on the men's team earn an average of $406,000 every year. By comparison, the top five players on the far more successful women's team are guaranteed just $72,000 annually -- even though the women's team has been essential in driving revenue for U.S. Soccer, noted captain Carli Lloyd in an essay for the New York Times Monday.
"If I were a male soccer player who won a World Cup for the United States, my bonus would be $390,000. Because I am a female soccer player, the bonus I got for our World Cup victory last summer was $75,000," she wrote. "The inequality is jarring."
Why, in 2016, is the typical wage disparity as vast as 21 percent between men and women's earnings? Researchers cite a host of factors, from plain and simple gender discrimination to more controversial explanations, such as the idea that men and women choose different occupations or work different amounts of time. Yet even with those factors, the Third Way, a Democratic public policy group, has found that "there remains a gap that cannot be attributed to observable factors" and argued that even if factors like occupation or time in the office help explain the gap, better, equalizing government policies — mandated paid maternity leave, or increased child-care options — can help close it.
Curious to know how old you'll be when the gender pay gap is finally closed, based on current trajectories? The World Economic Forum has a Gender Gap Calculator that will tell you. Spoiler alert: If you're a U.S. citizen, it won't be in your lifetime.