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The Columbus Dispatch

What is Equal Pay Day and how does Columbus measure up?

By Danae King,


The gender pay gap affects women of all races, nationalities, sexual orientations, gender expressions and lifestyles.

Equal Pay Day is March 14 this year, showing how far into the next year women in the United States have to work to earn what men did in the previous calendar year, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Though the pay gap is narrowing, it's happening slowly. The institute estimates that it will take decades for women workers to reach pay equity with men. In 2021, full-time, year-round female employees were estimated to need 38 years, to 2059, and all women were estimated to need 33 years, to 2054, according to the institute.

Advice on advocating for equal pay: An Ohio State professor fought for equal pay and won. Here's how

In 2023, women make 84 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man made, according to Equal Pay Today. That's a penny more than last year.

We broke down what you need to know this Equal Pay Day, including how women's pay stacks up to their male counterparts in Columbus and the nation.

What is Equal Pay Day and how did it start?

Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

It was started to raise awareness about the gap between men's and women's wages, and was originally called National Pay Inequity Awareness Day. In 1998, the name was changed to Equal Pay Day.

Gender pay gap in the United States

Women working full time earned 83% of men’s median weekly earnings in 2022, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, which is why they have to work almost three more months into the next year to make the same amount of money.

There are other days during the year to mark further gaps in pay for Black women (July 27); Latina women (Oct. 5) ; mothers (Aug. 15) ; LGBTQIA women (June 15) ; native women (Nov. 30) ; and Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women (April 5) , according to Equal Pay Today.

How does Greater Columbus measure up?

In Columbus, women are paid 16% less than men, earning 84 cents for every dollar a man makes, according to Kirsten Estose, Columbus City Council's legislative analyst.

Black women earn 64 cents and Latina women earn 46 cents for every dollar a man makes, Estose said.

The average woman loses out on more than $400,000 over a 40-year career, and Black and Latina women lose out on close to $1 million, Estose said.

February 2023: Columbus City Council introduces legislation to create better pay equity among employers

Columbus city council: Passes 'pay equity' bill on March 13, 2023

Median annual salary for 2021 in Columbus for full-time, year-round civilians employees 16 years old and over was $51,734 for men and $48,884 for women, according to U.S. Census Bureau data as provided by the Columbus Women's Commission.

For all civilian workers, it was $41,163 for men and $34,303 for women, according to that data.

Women were also more likely to have income below the poverty level than men within the Columbus metro area, said Bill LaFayette, a central Ohio economist who used Census data to find the numbers.

Of the 9.2% of people living below the federal poverty line, 41% were men and 59% were women, Lafayette said.

Is pay different for women of color?

Pay discrepancies also differ by race, experts say and data confirm.

Black women need to work seven extra months into the new year to match what white, non-Hispanic men made the previous year, according to Equal Pay Today. Last year, it was nine months into the year.

From 2022: Why is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day a month later this year?

Black women get paid 67 cents for every dollar white men are paid, according to Equal Pay Today, and last year that number was 58 cents. Black Women's Equal Pay Day is July 27 this year.

Latina women must work 10 months into the new year to match a white man's salary, as they make 57 cents for every dollar men make, which has stayed consistent from last year. Latina Equal Pay Day is Oct. 5 this year.

From 2021: Local Latina professionals discuss importance of Latina Equal Pay Day

Native and indigenous women face the same gap, making 57 cents for every dollar white men make, according to Equal Pay Today. Native Women's Equal Pay Day is Nov. 30.

Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women make 92 cents for every dollar a white man makes, according to Equal Pay Today, their day is April 5.

What are Columbus organizations and leaders doing to fight for equal pay?

Columbus organizations and leaders are working on a number of initiatives to close the gender pay gap.

Columbus City Council's legislation

Columbus City Council member Lourdes Barroso de Padilla introduced legislation in February in hopes of creating more pay equity locally. Passed Monday by the City Council, it bars employers from asking job candidates about their salary history under most circumstances, and would have a 365-day implementation period.

Toledo and Cincinnati implemented similar legislation that bars employers from asking prospective employees about salary history, joining several other cities and states.

Workers have seen a 5% pay increase overall in municipalities where salary history is no longer asked for, according to Estose, the council's legislative analyst.

More: Should employers ask for salary history? Ohio Democrat says it makes gender pay gap worse

More: Columbus Chamber of Commerce concerned about proposed ban on pay history questions

Columbus Women's Commission

An advisory body to Mayor Andrew Ginther, the commission strives to advance the economic well-being of women. The 24-member group’s goal is to “dismantle barriers and reduce gender-based inequities to improve the economic position of women in our community.”

Organizations and employers can demonstrate their commitment to equal pay by signing the commissions list, called The Columbus Commitment: Achieving Pay Equity , at .

Women's Fund of Central Ohio

A public foundation which relies on support from the community, the Women's Fund of Central Ohio is focused on gender equity and does research, advocacy and invests in women and girls. It was founded by 15 women in 2001 to address the lack of funding for women and girls in central Ohio.

Through research in 2019, it identified elimination of the pay gap as one of four "wealth accelerators" that can help improve a woman's ability to build wealth.

Together Digital

A membership organization, Together Digital works to educate and empower women in digital fields. Members share expertise, professional development tips and friendship. A survey found that 69.7% of members increased their salary in 2021.

Women for Economic Leadership and Development (WELD)

WELD is a nonprofit that helps to develop and advance women’s leadership to strengthen the economic prosperity of the communities it serves by giving women tools, offering leadership programs, community support and mentoring.

It was founded in Columbus in 2003 and is now a national organization.


This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: What is Equal Pay Day and how does Columbus measure up?

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