Tomorrow is Asian American and Pacific Islander Women’s Equal Pay Day.1 The day marks the point in 2021 until which, on average, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander women had to work—from the start of 2020 through March 9, 2021—to earn as much as White, non-Latino men earned in 2020 alone. Put differently, this group of women earns 85 cents for every dollar White men make.

Of course, there are big disparities between different subgroups among these women. For instance, Malaysian, Taiwanese, and Indian women’s median earnings surpass those of White men, while Nepalese women earn half as much as White men. Nonetheless, the coronavirus recession overall is hitting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander women workers hard.

The pay disparity between White, non-Latino men and Asian American women has narrowed over the past two decades, from 31 cents per dollar in 2002 to 13 cents per dollar in 2019.2 Yet a stubborn gap remains over time. Going further back, when studying the evolution of earnings of Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino American women from 1960 to 1990, Donald Mar of San Francisco State University finds that the difference between their actual and simulated earnings—the pay they would receive if they were treated as White women—narrowed significantly in the 1970s.

These findings suggest that the pay penalty these groups of women workers experienced vis-à-vis their White counterparts as a result of discrimination might have become less pervasive in the second half of the 20th century. Still, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander women continue to face important barriers and challenges in the labor market.

Read the full article about wage gaps by Kate Bahn and Carmen Sanchez Cumming at Equitable Growth.