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  • Writer's pictureConlan Carter

Equal Pay Day, 2023

Updated: Mar 10

An illustrated timeline of our progress towards pay equity so far

In this article

What is Equal Pay Day?

A history of women in the workforce

How to celebrate Equal Pay Day (where we go from here)

March is Women's History Month – a time when we reflect thoughtfully on the all-important role that women have played in American history. It's a great time for study, celebration, and advocacy for a more inclusive and equitable world for women.

Coincidentally, there's another holiday this month that also focuses on the past (and future) of women in America: Equal Pay Day.

What does Equal Pay Day mean, why does it change dates every year, and what is the history of women in the workforce so far? Below, we'll cover the basics of Equal Pay Day, and we're also including something really special: an illustrated timeline of women's history in the US workforce, pulled straight from one of Ethena's classic modules. We're dusting it off just for the occasion!

Let's get to the good stuff.

What is Equal Pay Day?

This year, Equal Pay Day is March 14th – a date that specifically marks the average length of time women in the workforce would need to work to meet a year’s pay for their male counterparts (i.e. women on average would need to work 2.5 months longer to reach an equal amount of pay). If you're wondering why Equal Pay Day falls on a different date than last year, this is why: it changes annually to match the wage gap.

Right now, the average working woman in the US is paid $0.84 for every $1.00 earned by a man, and this pay disparity has an even greater impact on the retirement savings of women. On this day, we take special care to note the gender pay gap in the United States and how this gap has a direct influence on the lives of women, families, and communities of color.

A note on data for the intersectional experience of women

We should note here that Equal Pay Day is based on an average of all women, and excludes a number of factors that we’d like to name before we begin. The date of March 14th is based on an average of data of all women, regardless of demographic.

For example, the average AANHPI (Asian American/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander) woman is paid $0.80 for every $1.00 given to their white, male counterparts, placing AANHPI Women’s Equal Pay Day on April 5th of this year.

The full Equal Pay Day Awareness Days are:

When it comes to discussing the gender wage gap, it’s near impossible to ignore intersectional identity.

A screenshot from Ethena's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion training
A screenshot from Ethena's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion training

On the gender binary

We’d also like to point out that the conversation and data here exists largely in the gender binary. In the research on the gender pay gap, you’re very likely to find a significant (if not complete) exclusion of the experiences of non-binary and gender non-conforming professionals, and the research as it stands today doesn’t cover the complexities involved in the experience of transgender women in the workplace.

(For what it’s worth, the Equal Pay Today Campaign has reserved June 15th, 2023 as LGBTQ Equal Pay Awareness Day – not as an acknowledgment of a specific wage gap, but to point out the lack of wage gap data in modern reporting.)

We’ll continue to talk about the wage gap for women in the US, and we hope that continuing to bring awareness to fairness in the workplace will evolve as we continue the conversation together.

Isn’t the gender pay gap discrimination, and therefore illegal?

In the hypothetical sense, devoid of all context, yes, it is illegal to pay a woman less than a man in the same role at the same company. But the point of Equal Pay Day is to bring awareness to the larger factors that play a major role in the disparity between men and women.

Due to cultural factors here in the US, women are more likely to be segregated into lower-paying jobs and industries, and women are also expected to drop their careers for family and caretaking needs. It should also be noted that companies may also replicate salary discrepancies when they base a salary offer on a woman’s pay history, which is likely to be lower than her peers due to past discrimination.

As we move the needle forward to a more equitable approach to wages in the US, you may be having conversations about pay equity in your workplace. If you're looking for great advice on pay transparency, we highly recommend our blog post on making the shift to salary transparency in your workplace.

A screenshot from Ethena's Harassment Prevention training
A screenshot from Ethena's Harassment Prevention training

A history of women in the workforce

In July of 2021, Ethena’s Content team chose to highlight the gender pay gap in our Women’s Equal Pay Day lesson in Ethena's Harassment Prevention course. Part of this lesson included an extensive illustrated timeline, which focused on the history of women in the United States workforce.

The timeline itself serves as a quick historical survey, a way to get a better perspective on how we’ve made it to the legal protections for all genders in the workplace we have today (and to help us identify where we still need to go). Plus, it's a great tool for visual learners out there – a great way for us to spice up our training content with the multimedia elements that our learners love.

About the illustrator

Joyce Rice is an American cartoonist whose work has appeared in Vox, The Nib, In These Times, and NPR. Her comics frequently center around history, technology, and her dog, Loretta. You can see more at!



1950-Present Day

How to celebrate Equal Pay Day (where we go from here)

Looking at this long history, it’s clear that progress is not a steady forward trend – there are often major shifts and setbacks. So, as we think about Equal Pay Day today, it’s crucial to think carefully about how we go about eliminating the gender pay gap in a sustainable and lasting way. Below are some of the main takeaways we left our learners with in the original training.

Know your history

History very often repeats itself. Taking a look through this timeline, you’ll note that as recently as WWII, women left the workforce en masse. When you consider the fact that, since February 2020, men have largely regained all the jobs they lost during the COVID pandemic while millions of women struggle to return to the workforce, it’s obvious that there are still some serious barriers in the way of working women in the United States. We should pay close attention to our past victories, and, in some cases, use them as strategies to solve today’s problems.

Know your rights

Learners taking Ethena's Harassment Prevention course know that US employees have protections from discrimination on the basis of gender. In addition, in 2019, Congress passed the Paycheck Fairness Act, strengthening protections against sex-based pay discrimination and providing important updates to the Equal Pay Act of 1963. It allows workers to challenge discrimination and provides employers with incentives, training, and technical assistance to comply with the law.


We’ll send you off with a “Happy Equal Pay Day 2023,” but if you're interested in learning more about Ethena's inclusive approach to Harassment Prevention, as well as our other courses, check out our Courses page. If you're interested in seeing how Ethena's training might be a great fit for your team, get in contact with a member of our team!

This blog post was originally posted in 2022. We've made some updates to fit the timeliness of Equal Pay Day 2023.

Stats to prove it.

Latham & Watkins wrote about our unique and effective approach to harassment prevention. It’s less boring than it sounds!

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A company using Ethena could reasonably expect to face fewer enforcement actions and to be less vulnerable to liability for sexual harassment."

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