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April 8 is Equal Pay Day. That means that the average woman is just now catching up with what the average man made in 2013. There are a lot of reasons for that, with outright discrimination at the individual level only accounting for part of the pay gap. But the pay gap is there from the beginning of people's working lives:
real entry-level wages of male and female college graduates, 1979-2013. Men are consistently higher, though women catch up a little bit.
And it's worse for women of color—in fact, for many women it won't be Equal Pay Day for quite a while:
[T]he wage gaps for women of color are substantially wider than for women overall: women overall working full time, year round typically make only 77 percent of what their male counterparts make – for African-American women compared to white, non-Hispanic men this figure is 64 cents – and for Hispanic women it's only 54 cents.

That means Equal Pay Day for African-American women comes in July. For Hispanic women it isn't until November.

And yes, part of the reason for women's lower earnings is that, as people dismissing equal pay concerns often point out, women tend to be in lower-paid occupations than men. But by what contortion of logic does the fact that the lowest-paid occupations are overwhelmingly dominated by women show that discrimination is not real? Doesn't it in fact show that discrimination is a much bigger and more pervasive force than a couple thousand asshole bosses intentionally paying women less than men? (Though those bosses are certainly out there, as Lilly Ledbetter could tell you.)

The final answers to equal pay are bigger than cracking down on overt discrimination. But we sure aren't going to get anywhere as long as discrimination remains illegal, but nearly impossible to discover and only weakly punished.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 01:14 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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