Every year, March is designated Women’s History Month by presidential proclamation, a time to celebrate women’s contributions throughout America’s history. Beginning March 1, this year we honor “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.” 

This year, there’s something to celebrate in regard to the gender pay gap, as progress has been made for the first time in 20 years. However, there’s still much work to be done. 

Background to Women’s History Month

The origins of Women’s History Month emerged in Santa Rosa, California. In 1978, “Women’s History Week” was planned to correspond with International Women’s Day. Two years later, President Carter formally proclaimed the week of March 2-8 Women’s History Week. In 1987, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9, proclaiming March 1987 as the first Women’s History Month

Among the iconic women we honor is Lilly Ledbetter, a powerful activist for pay equality and the inspiration behind the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  

Progress in Closing the Gender Pay Gap

In 2023, the pay gap fell to its lowest on record. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that median weekly earnings for women were 83.8% of men’s earnings. In 2022, Pew Research analysis revealed a persistent pay gap of around 20% that hadn’t changed in two decades. 

Further, Equal Pay Day, the day women’s earnings equal men’s in the previous year, takes place on March 12, 2024. That’s two days earlier than 2023. 

It is incremental and significant progress toward advancing pay equality, but it is only the beginning. Here’s why:

  • For women of some racial and ethnic groups, the pay gap is wider. Based on current data, Black Women have to wait until July 27 for their Equal Pay Day on July 27. Other minority groups face a longer wait. Latina and Native Women’s Equal Pay Days take place on Oct. 5, and Nov. 30 respectively. 
  • While women now make up 35% of workers in the 10 highest-paying jobs – compared to 13% in 1980 – they still lag behind men
  • Predictions on how long it will take to close the gender pay gap range from half a century to 132 years. 

Pay Equity Legislation Expands Across the U.S.

Pay equity legislation is one of the most effective strategies to close the gender pay gap, and it continues to expand. 

Minnesota is the latest state to enact a salary history ban, while the District of Columbia’s pay transparency law comes into effect on June 30. California and Illinois continue to strengthen pay data reporting, with Massachusetts poised to join them. 

On the 15th anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Biden administration proposed new pay equity laws for federal employers. Further, salary is now included in at least half of all U.S. job postings

But there’s more to advancing pay equality than compliance.

Exploring Gender Pay Gap Solutions

Leveraging best-in-class pay equity software solution supports initiatives for advancing pay equality, including: 

Focus on intersectionality: Intersectionality matters as it provides a framework to understand the impact of cultural bias on women and minority groups. The Equal Opportunity and Employment Commission states “pay inequity is not solely an issue of sex discrimination, but an intersectional issue that cuts across race, color, national origin, and other protected classes.”

Intersectionality is key to achieving pay equity because it recognizes that individuals can experience discrimination and inequality based on those protected characteristics. Carrying out a pay equity audit without accounting for those dimensions can result in an inaccurate analysis.

Trusaic PayParity® carries out pay equity analyses at the intersection of factors including race, age, gender, ethnicity, disability, and more. 

Promote responsible AI: To reflect an accurate gender pay gap, there must be a focus on “responsible AI.” An IBM study highlights how underrepresentation of women or minority groups perpetuates algorithmic bias. Conducting an intersectional pay equity analysis can eliminate that bias by identifying and eliminating systemic issues in compensation structures. 

Embrace opportunity transparency: The emerging trend of opportunity transparency provides all employees with equal access to opportunities for employment, development, and career advancement. 

Commit to workplace equity:  A commitment to workplace equity embraces the theme of this year’s Women’s History Month. Measuring and monitoring the effectiveness of workplace equity initiatives is vital for organizations committed to creating inclusive cultures. 

As a study into BHP’s South Flank mine shows, however, achieving workplace equity requires an innovative, and disruptive, approach to inclusion. This remote mine in Western Australia has achieved a 40% female workforce, where over 60% of its senior leadership team are women. Investing in inclusivity, adopting a data-driven approach with pay equity software, and setting gender equity targets are vital to succeed. 

Celebrate small wins: Achieving pay equity isn’t a one-time fix. It requires consistency and commitment. Celebrating the small wins towards achieving your goal can help to ensure Women’s History Month 2025 marks greater progress in closing the gender pay gap.  

Support your pay equity initiatives with Trusaic’s pay equity software solution. Speak to one of our experts.

Download: Pay Equity Definitive Guide