By Ellen McGirt
April 2, 2019

April 2nd is Women’s Equal Pay Day, the additional number of days into 2019 that women had to work to earn as much money as men did during the 2018 calendar year.

At least it would be if women were one, undifferentiated, racially-mixed cisgender person.

In fact, when analyzed loosely by race, Women’s Equal Pay Day falls on a series of days over the course of the year.

It’s an imperfect lens but it does paint a picture. Fortune’s Emma Hinchcliffe breaks it down.

The first Equal Pay Day of the year arrived on March 5 for Asian-American Pacific Islander women, denoting that the group earns 85 cents on the dollar relative to men—the smallest pay gap. But even that statistic can obscure the challenges faced by lower-income AAPI women, specifically Thai, Cambodian, Nepalese, Laotian, Hmong, and Burmese-American women who earn closer to 60 cents on the dollar.

Equal Pay Day for white women, denoting a slightly larger gap, follows this year on April 19, according to the American Association of University Women.

After the April dates, there’s a four-month wait until the next Equal Pay Days roll around—a sign of how severe the pay gap is for black women, Native American women, and Latina women. Black Women’s Equal Pay Day will fall on Aug. 22, followed by Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day on Sept. 23, and Latinas’ Equal Pay Day on Nov. 20. That order means that Latinas face the largest wage gap, of around 53 cents on the dollar. Black women earn about 61 cents on the dollar and Native American women earn about 57 cents on the dollar.

For all the Equal Pay Days out there, there are still people who just aren’t buying the math.

According to new data from SurveyMonkey, it seems that while 62 percent of Americans do acknowledge the gap in pay, men and younger people are the most likely to incorrectly believe that all genders are paid equally for the same job.

And the numbers seem to be going in the wrong direction. Some 47 percent of the 8,566 Americans polled think all gender-based obstacles are gone, an increase from 44 percent last year. For men, those numbers are 58 percent and 55 percent, respectively.

“Most Americans recognize the gap and find it unfair, saying that someone should do something about it—whether it’s the government or companies,” says Jillesa Gebhardt, the research scientist who led the study, via email. “They’re not in agreement on what will actually help and are lukewarm about the effectiveness of solutions like requiring companies to submit gender and compensation information to the government, which has proven effective in other countries.”

Nilofer Merchant, the author of The Power of Onlyness, says that collective action is the only way to break through the barriers in sentiment and at work that all women continue to face.

“Many women ‘experts’ respond to data on pay inequality by offering ‘empowerment’ advice,” she writes in this opinion piece for Fortune. “’Speak up, stand out, and kick ass!’ This is alluring language to both the person saying it and those ready to believe it.”

But the idea of individual power is an illusion. Power, she says is social. And so is progress.

“The key to real, lasting change in women’s status in the workplace is to act collectively. Rather than focusing all our energy on changing our personal behaviors, we can work to create a professional system that benefits all women.”


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