Many people are not aware that women still earn considerably less than men, or that a specific day "Equal Pay Day "has been designated to raise awareness of pay inequity. The Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, making it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who hold the same job and do the same work. At the time of the EPA's passage, women earned just 58 cents for every dollar earned by men. By 2001, nearly 40 years later, that rate had only increased to 76 cents, an improvement of less than half a penny a year. Collectively, women lose over $100 billion annually in wages due to pay inequity. According to a recent study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, a 25-year-old woman who works full time year-round for the next 40 years will earn $523,000 less than the average 25-year-old man, if current wage patterns continue. (womensorg).
The gap in average wages between men and women workers has been gradually narrowing, but very gradually. Some say that this gap stems largely from the difference in type and rank of job and from the fact that the women's length of working years is shorter than that of men. The Employment Policy Foundation's Nordquist says one reason women's pay is lower than men's is that women are more apt to be liberal arts majors who go into lower-paying jobs, while men are inclined to choose engineering and computer-science courses and pursue higher-paying careers. But others argue that these aren't examples of poor career choices by women, but of careers dominated by men which would be a subtle form of discrimination that undervalues women and some of the work they do. (cnn).
About 60% of the improvement in the wage gap during the last 15 years can be attributed to the decline in men's real earnings, not an increase in women's earnings. According to the National Academy of Sciences, between one-third and one-half of the wage difference between men and women cannot be explained by differences in experience, education, or other legitimate qualifications.