This month, we celebrate Women’s History Month.
The celebration of Women’s History Month in March stems from the significance of March 8, 1857, when female garment workers in New York City protested inhumane working conditions and low pay. Although their protest was violently broken up by the police, the women eventually succeeded in creating the first women’s labor union. On March 8, 1908, women again marched in New York City for better working conditions, as well as voting rights and an end to child labor. We celebrated March 8 as International Women’s Day.
It is particularly important to emphasize these beginnings given the nature of Sanford Heisler Sharp’s work. International Women’s Day was first known as International Working Women’s Day, and we all know the struggles working women have faced and continue to face each day. For example, in terms of pay discrimination, women’s median earnings are only 80.8% of men’s median earnings for full-time workers aged sixteen or older. Women earn less than men in almost every occupation, and the gender pay gap persists despite encouraging signs that it is narrower amongst younger workers than amongst older.
Today, March 15, is Equal Pay Day, which represents the number of extra days—from January 1 to March 15—that women, on average, must work to earn what men earned between January 1 and December 31 of the previous year. However, because the gender pay gap is more severe for women of color, Equal Pay Day falls on different days for different groups:
- Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Women’s Equal Pay Day: May 3
- Black Women’s Equal Pay Day: September 21
- Native Women’s Equal Pay Day: November 30
- Latinas’ Equal Pay Day: December 8
What this means is, on average, that Native American women and Latinas must work for nearly two full years to earn what non-Hispanic white men make in one. While the gender pay gap for white women has improved over recent years, currently at around 79 cents on the dollar, the problem remains intractably large for racial minorities.
As civil rights and employment attorneys, we confront these types of inequities each day in our work. However, in this month and on this day, we hope you take the time to reflect on how far we have come and how much farther we have yet to go and to re-dedicate yourself to this work.
We would also like to share a few interesting resources and events related to Women’s History Month, Equal Pay, and the law. Please feel free to circulate any additional resources you think may be interesting!
- The Great Americans Medal Event, honoring Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Virtual event, hosted by the National Museum of American History on Wednesday, March 30, 2022 at 6:30 PM EST
- “Women in History: Lawyers and Judges” by Kelly Buchanan, Library of Congress. A blog post detailing the first female lawyers and judges in different countries.
- Gender Pay Gap Bot on Twitter. A U.K.-based bot that tweets about the gender pay gap in different countries, featured in stories by the NY Times and the Washington Post.
 https://www.aauw.org/resources/article/equal-pay-day-calendar/ (Note that the methodology here is different to account for part-time and seasonal work.)