April 12 is Equal Pay Day, which serves as a reminder that equal pay for women still is not a reality.
In the United States, women earn around 79 cents for every dollar that a man makes in comparable jobs, but for female clergy the gap is higher. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 women of the cloth made 76 cents for every dollar that male pastors, priests, and ministers made. A few pennies here, a few pennies there — it may not sound like a lot, but a 14-cent gap amounts to a $12,000 difference in annual earnings.
Nationwide, the gender pay gap hasn’t changed much since 2001, when according to the National Committee on Pay Equity, women earned about 76 cents for every man’s dollar. At the current rate of increase, women will not achieve pay equity until 2059.
The United States’ long slog toward pay equity has received much needed press of late. Carli Lloyd, along with four teammates from the U.S. women’s soccer team, filed a complaint in March with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that U.S. Soccer unfairly pays them far less than it pays members of the men’s team.
And in January, President Obama signed an executive action that requires large companies to disclose how much they pay their employees, as broken down by race, gender, and ethnicity.
Churches, however, need to address pay disparity themselves. As Tobin Grant points out:
The gap among clergy is noteworthy because, as an occupation, the clergy has credentialing (ordination) and educational requirements that should encourage similar pay for similar work. Religious organizations often have educational requirements and institutional controls for clergy.
Because of these structures, pay for clergy should be more easy to standardize. That’s why the clergy pay gap is so puzzling.
The gender gap is narrower for other similar occupations including education administrators and managers of social or community services. Counselors and social workers are much more likely to be female. These occupations have a smaller gap, with women earning around 95 cents for each dollar a man earns.
This Equal Pay Day, there is still a lot of room for the United States to get better — and sadly, even more room for churches.