Looking for Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day? Let’s Start by Ending the Sexist and Racist Wage Gap Working Mothers Face.
By Mary Kay Devine, Senior Director of External Affairs at Women Employed, and full-time working mom to Lucy, Charles, Cecilia, and Eleanor.
Before the construction paper homemade cards are complete with glitter and glue. Before the kids cook up plans to serve Mom breakfast in bed. Before we celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, we pause to mark Mother’s Equal Pay Day. And let me be clear, this day is nothing to cheer about.
May 5th marks the day that moms — across race and ethnicity — must work into 2021 to earn what dads made in 2020 alone. The “average” mother earns 70 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.
But we know that average numbers don’t tell the whole story. Because of the compounding factors of sexism and racism, the wage gap has a disproportionate impact on moms of color.
These lost cents on the dollar add up to tens of thousands of dollars in lost income per year and result in mothers losing more than one million dollars in earnings over a 40-year career — specifically Black, Native American, and Latina mothers.
As a breadwinning mama myself, I understand how critical moms’ earnings are to families and communities. According to the Center for American Progress, two-thirds of working mothers were breadwinners before the COVID-19 pandemic upended our lives.
Here’s a photo of last year’s Mother’s Day, orange juice toast with my four kiddos. Like most breadwinning mothers, I have school aged children. My twins are in 2nd grade, my son is in 7th grade, and my oldest daughter is a junior in high school. Even before the pandemic shuttered our schools and moved classes into our kitchens, the wage gap for moms was exacerbated by the lack of paid parental leave in the United States coupled with the high cost of child care.
As challenging as this past year has been with my whole family working and learning at home, on Moms Equal Pay Day, we can’t ignore the fact that working from home during the coronavirus pandemic is a privilege 70 percent of workers don’t have. Low-wage Black & Latinx employees, who already experience unfair pay, are least likely to be able to stay home & stay employed. (Source — EPI)
So, what can we do to attack this racist and sexist wage gap? You can take action today with Women Employed!
- Urge Illinois Legislators to Pass Paid Sick Days. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed a critical flaw in the American economic system: the lack of paid sick leave for all workers.
- Tell Congress to Pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act NOW! While we were able to win similar legislation in Illinois in 2015, thousands of pregnant workers across the country still face discrimination on the job, from being denied bathroom breaks to being fired because they’re pregnant. This is a key driver of the wage gap.
- Join Us in the Fight for a Full and Fair Wage. We cannot advance racial justice, gender equity, and workplace safety — particularly for working moms — without eliminating the subminimum wage.
- Demand Paid Family and Medical Leave for All! Too many moms have been pushed out of the workforce due to caregiving obligations. Moms of color are disproportionately affected by a lack of critical protections like paid leave.
Families depend on women’s earnings to survive. To help families thrive we must take bold action to end the sexist and racist wage gap impacting working moms. Once you take action, please help us spread the word on the urgent need to demand that our legislators create permanent paid family and medical leave; pass paid sick days; eliminate pregnancy discrimination; and establish a full and fair minimum wage. If we don’t, we’ll all pay the price for generations to come, but working mothers and their children, will unfairly bear this burden.
Sign up and step up for working women. With your help, we are building a movement towards a better workplace for all. Each individual action makes a difference. Join us!