April usually means Easter eggs and pranks; however, a less recognized April holiday is April 12, National Pay Equity Day, which is a commemorative day that serves to eliminate wage systems that are based on factors like gender, race or ethnicity. According to pay-equity.org, Pay Equity Day is a reminder of how far into the current year a woman must work just to earn what men made in the previous one.

Randi Sims, professor at the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship and member of NSU’s American Association of University Women, said pay equity is a fairness issue, and, although fairness is an issue that we face every day, this particular fairness issue is very important because most people do not even realize how unequal pay really is.

Sims said that, on average, women make 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, and it takes from Dec. 31, 2015 to April 12, 2016 for women to earn the same amount men made on Dec. 31, 2015.  In addition, women of color only make 65 percent of the pay men make, so they would have to work up until about June to reach equal pay.

According to Sims, the hardest part of trying to get equality in pay is the lack of transparency. Because of the private information that goes into delegating work pay, the amount on paychecks is almost always a secret. And even though some companies implement pay grades for certain positions, pay grades often have a range and there is no way of knowing where one falls on that scale, even if he or she is doing the same job as someone else. For example there are websites such as payscale.com that will help you figure out what the average salary for a particular position would be, but this range does not calculate the impact of gender and race.

“What tends to happen is that women are stirred into the lower paying positions in the company,” Sims said. “Even if a women comes into a company with the same education level as a man does, the man might get sales, and a woman might get human resources. So, even if she does very well, her promotion will still always be lower than his.”

She went on to say that the biggest misconception of the pay gap is that women get paid less because they go for lower-paid jobs. In reality, jobs are lower-paid because women are the ones dominating them.

For example, Sims said school teaching used to be a high-paid job, but, after becoming dominated by women, it is now widely known for its low salary. Sims also said that, although today’s women’s mothers and grandmothers worked hard to get female equality where it is today, young women should not rest and get comfortable.

“It’s our turn to make a difference,” she said.

Julie Turruella Garcia, associate professor in the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography, is also a member of the American Association of University Women, and said fighting for equality is an obligation that one must choose to fulfill.

“Even if you are someone who is a little more timid, there are definitely clubs and organizations that you should get involved in. I’m not the type to start a riot, but I definitely believe in giving women a voice and, so, I joined AAUW and kind of tagged along in helping them with what they were already doing.”

Garcia said there are smaller ways to get involved.

“Sometimes, it’s as simple as putting your name on a petition and sending it off,” said Garcia. “You can get involved in anything you believe in ― even if you don’t want to be the one to start the movement, don’t be afraid to join it.”

According to the National Women’s Law Center, the Equal Pay Act has been a law for over 50 years, yet the wage gap still exists. When people think of all the women who identify as heads of the households, a lower pay can definitely hinder their lives at home. As recorded by Pew Research Center in 2014, 40 percent of women identified as head of household and 50 percent of women identified as divorced or widowed.

For more information about Pay Equity Day, visit pay-equity.org. For more information about the American Association of University Women, visit aauw.org.

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