By: Abby Lane, FellowPosted on April 9, 2013 Issues: Equal Pay & the Wage Gap Workplace Justice

Equal Pay Day provides a moment to take stock of our progress during the 50 years since the passage of the Equal Pay Act: today more women are in the labor force, women are pursuing post-secondary education at higher rates, and the pay gap between men and women has narrowed by 18 cents.

 Here’s what was happening back in 1963 . . .

  • The Beatles released their debut album, Please Please Me.
  • Leave that rotary phone behind! The touch-tone phone was introduced!
  • In 1963, the typical woman working full time, year round made just 59 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart. The wage gap was 41 cents.

 And where things stood in 2011 . . .

  • In another act from across the pond, Adele’s album 21 topped charts around the world.
  • Touch-tones gave way to touch-screens. I personally joined the ranks of what many people now considered the norm: owning a smartphone. Other technology that probably sounded like sci-fi in the 1960s but was commonplace in 2011: iPads, Kindles, Roku, and so on.
  • In 2011, the typical woman working full time, year round made just 77 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart. The wage gap is 23 cents.

When you look at the way some things have changed, 1963 feels like ancient history. . Yet there wage gap is one vestige of our past that’s alive and well – five decades later.

The chart below tracks our progress since 1963 – and we have made some – but the wage gap has been stagnant  at 77 cents for the past decade.

Ratio of Median Earnings of Full-Time, Year-Round Workers

In addition to tracking the overall wage gap over time, we’ve also tracked the wage gaps for women of color for the past two decades. The story here is worse – the gaps for women of color are wider than for women overall.  In 1967, the earliest year for which data are available, the typical African-American woman working full time, year round made only 43 cents for every dollar paid to her white, non-Hispanic male counterpart.  By 2011, that gap had narrowed by 21 cents, but African-American women working full time, year round were still only paid 64 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterpart. 

In 1974, the earliest year for which data are available, the typical Hispanic woman working full time, year round made only 49 cents for every dollar paid to her white, non-Hispanic male counterpart.  By 2011, this figure stood at 55 cents – just over six cents less than it was decades before and still terribly unfair. 

Equal Pay Day presents the perfect opportunity to jumpstart our efforts to narrow the wage gap. Let’s all band together to demand equal pay, so that one day soon, the wage gap will truly be ancient history.

Ratio of Median Earnings of Full-Time, Year-Round Workers

Check out the handy tables below to see what this looks like overall over time, for African-American women over time, and for Hispanic women over time.

The overall wage gap over time

The wage gap for African-American women over time

The wage gap for Hispanic women over time

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