National #EqualPayDay: Studies highlight wage disparities between women and men

In this Jan. 21, 2017 photo provided by Aileen Rizo, Rizo, along with her daughters Diana Acosta, 10, center, and Vivan Acosta, 6, right, attend the national Women's March in Fresno, Calif. Relying on women's previous salaries to determine their incomes at new jobs perpetuates longstanding disparities in the wages of men and women and is illegal when it results in higher pay for men, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday, April 9, 2018, in a novel opinion that aims to address the "financial exploitation of working women." The unanimous ruling by an 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals came in the case of a California school employee who learned over lunch with colleagues in 2012 that she made thousands less than her male counterparts. Aileen Rizo took a job as a math consultant in Fresno County in 2009 after working for several years in Arizona. (Aileen Rizo via AP)

WASHINGTON (CIRCA) – Tuesday is National Equal Pay Day, dedicated to calling attention to wage disparities between men and women in the workplace.

The National Committee on Equal Pay started the annual event in 1996. Tuesday was selected to highlight “how far into the next workweek women must work to earn what men earned the previous week,” according to the committee’s website. Its website also encourages the wearing of the color red as a symbol “of how far women and minorities are 'in the red' with their pay.”

According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), as of 2016 women working full time in the United States made 80 percent of what men were paid. New York state had the smallest disparity between men and women’s wages at 89 percent, while in Louisiana the gap was the largest; “women were paid 70 percent of what men were paid.”

A recent 2018 report by PayScale compared the income of all women to all men.

“Women earn 77.9 cents for every dollar earned by men. This figure has moved only slightly from 2016 -- when women earned 76.3 cents for every dollar earned by men,” the report stated.

On Monday, a federal appeals court ruled that women can't be paid less than men based on past wages. The ruling was unanimous by an 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court held "pay differences based on prior salaries are inherently discriminatory under the federal Equal Pay Act because the previous salaries were the result of gender bias," according to The Associated Press.

The AAUW has asked people to tweet on social media about the day and create a “tweet storm” using the hashtag #EqualPayDay. Some big names in the entertainment industry are already taking to social media to talk about the event.

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