In 2021, women are still seeking income equality in Arizona — and across the country.
According to 2020 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Arizona women earn 86.4% of men’s average yearly salary. In 2019, the average male salary in Arizona was $64,750; the average female salary was $49,881, according to data from DataUsa. That’s nearly 30% less than the average male income.
This is an improvement from the previous year; in 2019, according to the BLS, women earned just 78.4% of men’s salary. But Jill Horohoe, a faculty associate specializing in history and women and gender studies at Arizona State University, wrote in an email this increase is “painfully slow.”
“According to latest studies from the UN, at this rate, it will be 2069 before women approach equal pay to men,” Horohoe wrote.
Income inequality has been a historically significant issue across all of America, Horohoe wrote.
“It’s complicated, but in short, women have always been paid less than men,” Horohoe wrote. “And professions that are considered predominantly ‘female work,’ like teaching, are often lower paying jobs than traditionally male positions, like engineering.”
Gender inequality has existed in America since the country’s inception. According to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, the 19th Amendment guaranteed American women the right to vote on Aug. 18, 1920, after years of fighting to be heard. Even then, only white women were truly permitted to vote.
Race plays a role in income inequality as well. Non-white American women earn less than their white counterparts, both men and women, Horohoe wrote.
“In 2021, women get paid 82 cents for every dollar a man makes—but they’re the lucky ones,” Horohoe wrote. “If you are female and a mother, or African American, or Latina—the pay is even less.”
Societal stereotypes of gender continue to permeate American culture, perpetuating the issue. From birth, women are “conditioned to believe that being assertive is frowned upon,” and this contributes to the disparity, Horohoe wrote.
“There is still the notion, as there has been throughout U.S. history, that there is ‘men’s’ work and ‘women’s’ work—and women’s work has always had inherently less value,” Horohoe wrote.
Hannah Mason, a sophomore at ASU, said the issue is deeply embedded into America’s education system.
“I think people really need to realize that these stats and this disparity comes from education,” Mason said. “It comes from our culture as a whole.”
So how can that culture—and income inequality—change? Horohoe wrote she believes many things would need to happen in order for women to be paid equally.
“Employers would need to be more transparent with pay practices, people in management positions would have to recommit to equity in the workplace and—importantly—we, as women, need to start demanding more for ourselves—and ask for fair compensation,” Horohoe wrote.
Horohoe isn’t the only one asking women to be bold. Mason also said they believe individual women wield the power to influence this change.
“Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself,” Mason said. “I think that’s where the change is going to happen, it’s those individual women that are really pushing for their own success and not taking any sort of…disrespect.”
Initiating conversations about gender and income inequality with young men and women just entering the workforce can help them understand their role in stopping the cycle of unequal pay, Horohoe wrote. Conversations like these shed light on the many inequalities and injustices that continue to ravage America.
“When it comes to true equality, we still aren’t all that advanced,” Horohoe wrote. “We have a long way to go.”