April 5th is Equal Pay Day for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women. This date wasn’t chosen at random. April 5th is approximately 15 months from the start of the previous year, which is how long it takes the average AAPI woman to earn what the average white man had earned by New Year’s Day.
On average, AAPI women earn just 92 cents on the dollar compared to white men. This discrepancy adds up to $267,760 over the course of a 40-year career, according to data from the National Women’s Law Center, or NWLC.
For certain communities, the wage gap is even worse. Bhutanese, Nepalese, Burmese, Hmong, and Cambodian women can experience anywhere between $1 million and $1.3 million in lost wages over their careers. This earnings gap makes it far more difficult to achieve common life goals like buying a home, sending children to college, starting a business, or retiring.
Fortunately, this is not the case for all AAPI communities across the board. Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, and Taiwanese women actually earn more than white men on average, but still earn less than men in their respective communities.
Initiatives like the Paycheck Fairness Act could play a significant role in eliminating these dramatic wage gaps. This new legislation requires employers to list minimum and maximum salary ranges on job postings, bringing more transparency to starting salaries.
Eight US states have approved pay transparency laws, or await the governor’s signature.
Hopefully the pay transparency movement will continue to gain steam, and level the playing field for everyone.
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