February 11 is AAPI Women’s Equal Pay Day, but it’s not one to celebrate. Rather, it’s a day that represents immense financial inequality.
Asian American and Pacific Islander women have to work this far into the year to earn the same amount that white men earned in 2019 alone. In other words, the average AAPI woman had to work “almost an extra month and a half to make up for the annual earnings relative to the average non-Hispanic white man,” according to the Economic Policy Institute.
It all comes down to the gender pay gap.
On average, women earned 92 cents for every dollar their white male counterparts made in 2019, the institute found. This may not seem like a big difference, but over a 40-year career, this can add up to thousands of dollars according to Equal Pay Today, a campaign led by Equal Rights Advocates.
And when you break it down into specific communities, the wage gap grows even greater.
“Vietnamese and Thai are making 67 cents on the dollar. Bangladeshi women are making 60 cents on the dollar and Nepalese women are making 50 cents on the dollar,” Program Director of Equal Pay Today Shannon Williams told CNN.
There’s an Equal Pay Day for each race
AAPI women are actually on the higher end of the wage gap compared to other women of color.
White women, for instance, still have a month and a half of work to do to catch up. Black women have to keep at it through summer. Native American women would have to work through the fall. And Latina women? They’re on the job into November.
Here’s a list of what women in those other racial groups make compared to white men, and their Equal Pay Day for 2020:
The wage gap is getting smaller
The good news is that the overall gender wage gap is getting smaller.
Compared to women making 60.5% of what men made in 1969, in 2018, women made 82%, according to the American Association of University Women.
The closing of the gap could be due to a multitude of factors, such as women getting higher levels of education and going into fields that were normally dominated by men, but a lot of it has to do with women just advocating for their rights and bringing more awareness to the issue.
“Some of the #MeToo movement definitely would have to do with equal pay and making sure that women get their due in the workplace,” Elise Gould, senior economist at EPI told CNN. “It’s not just equal pay. It’s also promotions and opportunities.”
While the gender wage gap is definitely closing in, Williams believes there’s still a lot to be done, especially on the legislative front, such as passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Because “when women do well, everybody does well,” Williams said.
“If women could be making what they should be making, what their male counterparts are making, the economy would be doing much better,” Williams said. “if we’re really serious about making sure that women, particularly women of color are earning the money that they deserve, then we need to make sure that we’re making our voices heard this (election) year.”