In Minnesota, women earn 83 cents for every dollar that men earn, on average. That’s called the pay gap. To look at this a different way, the average woman would have to work almost ten years longer than the average man to equal his salary over the course of a career. Research has identified many reasons for the gap that go well beyond simple discrimination, but even after all legitimate sources of male/female pay differences (like education level, experience, work hours, skill differences, etc.) are accounted for, there is still a gap.
In honor of Equal Pay Day (April 17th) the U.S. Department of Labor announced four winners of Equal Pay App Challenge, which invited software developers to create apps to educate people about the pay gap and build online tools to promote equal pay. The winners of the challenge include Aequitas, Close The Wage Gap, the Gender Gap App, and Demand Equal Pay For Women. These apps all use publicly available wage data to help users learn about the gap in different occupations, industries, and areas. They’re fun ways to learn more and test your knowledge.
If you think you’re experiencing wage discrimination, what are your options? The first step is to arm yourself with information. At a minimum, know the typical salary in your current or prospective occupation. Second, know your rights. This brochure (pdf) from the Women’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor describes the laws governing wages in simple, everyday language. This can help you understand whether or not what you are experiencing counts as discrimination, and how to take the next step.
The pay gap isn’t just a “woman’s” issue. In Minnesota, 67 percent of women are counted as being in the labor force. An increasing number of them are the sole or primary wage earner in their family. This means the gap has a significant impact on everyone—men, women, and families.