How to Fight the Pay Gap on AAPI Women’s Equal Pay Day

Equity, Time’s Up, Pay Up

AAPI Equal Pay Day
Closing the pay gap – and addressing the many factors that perpetuate it – is a key component of TIME’S UP’s agenda.

More than 50 years have passed since the Equal Pay Act of 1963, yet women are still not getting paid what they are owed: on average, women in the United States are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men. Over a lifetime, this persistent pay gap adds up: a woman employed full time in the United States makes $590,000 less than a man over the course of a career.

These statistics are shocking enough – but gender inequity only reveals part of the story. We cannot fully understand – and solve for – the pay gap without acknowledging the intersecting role of racial discrimination in perpetuating these inequities and the necessity of equal pay.

Today is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Women’s Equal Pay Day, which represents how long, on average, it takes for AAPI women to finally catch up to what white men made in 2019. This gap, which amounts to a loss of $6,007 a year or more than $240,000 over a career, means that AAPI women have to work more than 13 months to make as much as white, non-Hispanic men did last year alone.

But AAPI women are not a monolithic group – far from it.

  • In 2019, there were Asian American Pacific Islander women who made as much as $0.90 per dollar that white, non-Hispanic men took home, and those who made as little as $0.50 on the dollar.
  • There are AAPI communities who experience some of the widest wage gaps among all women: Hmong-American and Cambodian-American women, for example, earned on average only 61 and 57 cents, respectively, for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men made.

However, issues like the pay gap do not occur in a vacuum: rather, the pay gap is a symptom of an imbalanced power structure that has devalued women for centuries. We see these power dynamics at play in every aspect of our society, from the lack of women directors nominated at the Oscars last night to the pervasiveness of sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination across jobs and industries.

Ensuring that women are paid fairly is fundamental to our vision of a world where work is safe, fair, and dignified for everyone. That’s why we’ve made closing the pay gap – and addressing the many factors that perpetuate it – a key component of TIME’S UP’s agenda.

But we can’t do it alone.

On this AAPI Women’s Equal Pay Day, make a commitment to join the fight for pay equity.

Here are three ways you can get involved, right now:

  • First, you can be sure you have the facts on the laws in your area. Many states and localities have recently enacted salary history bans, making it more difficult for women to be followed by a lower-paying salary compared to her male colleagues to a new job.
  • Second, you can support the federal Paycheck Fairness Act – and urge your senator to do the same. The comprehensive Paycheck Fairness Act would help close loopholes in the existing law.
  • Finally, you can vote for pay equity. Whether you’re voting for candidates for city council, mayor, state office, or president in this historic election year, find out what their plan is for closing the pay gap.

To be successful, the fight for equal pay must extend beyond the political arena. If you’re an employer:

  • Conduct an annual assessment of the median pay gap to close any disparities;
  • Use salary ranges in job postings and stop using salary history information when hiring; and
  • Support pay transparency by eliminating rules that prohibit workers from asking about prior pay.

We are in an historic moment of change, one in which employers, workers, and policymakers are joining together to actively address the safety, fairness, and dignity of our workplaces. For the first time ever, women are the majority of the U.S. workforce and more women are in power than ever before.

It’s time for women to be paid what they’re owed.