Data shows MI women still earn less on average than men
Today is Equal Pay Day, the date symbolizing how far into the year women need to work to earn what men earned in the previous year.
In Michigan, the average man earned more than $11,000 more than the average woman in 2020. In other words, women earned roughly 83 cents for each dollar men made.
Cheryl Bergman, CEO of the Michigan Women's Commission, said employers can take steps to improve pay equity such as including salaries in job descriptions during the hiring process. She argued pay transparency can help reduce the impact of past discrimination.
"If every employer everywhere and in the state did not ask for salary history when interviewing, it would go a long way to start to close that pay gap," Bergman asserted.
Bergman noted the gap is even greater for women of color. Latina women were paid on average 49 cents to each dollar men made, Native American women 50 cents and Black women were typically paid 58 cents.
Bergman added it is crucial to reassess how we value different types of work. She pointed out women are overrepresented in jobs such as caregivers, either for children or the elderly, as well as nurses, teachers and domestic workers, among other professions.
She stressed union membership improves gender equity in the workplace.
"Unionized women make an on average 23% more than nonunion women," Bergman observed. "And they're also more likely to have paid leave and protections against sexual harassment and other harassment in the workplace."
March 15 is the earliest Equal Pay Day has been since its inception in 1996. Last year, it was on March 24. Yet as of February there are 1.1 million fewer women in the workforce than the previous year.
Bergman acknowledged while progress has been made, it remains important to keep pushing for full pay equity.