Today is Equal Pay Day, the day some activist groups have chosen to symbolize the date in each year to which a woman would have to work in order to earn what a man earned in 2011. As an exasperated commenter reminded us yesterday, and again today, the wage gap isn’t as simple as some feminist rhetoric makes it seem: Single, childless women workers actually earn 8% more than their male peers, while men overall work longer hours at more dangerous jobs. That is to say, there’s more going on here than just mean bosses conspiring to keep the ladies down. But just because the reasons for the gap are complicated doesn’t mean the gap itself doesn’t exist. The National Partnership for Women & Families crunched the numbers to find out what a difference the gap makes the average woman’s life. Here are 10 things we’d be able to buy if we managed to close that gap: first, necessities, as calculated by the nonprofit, and then the fun stuff, as calculated by me.
The group breaks it down by state, so I’ve somewhat arbitrarily taken the numbers for Illinois, where a woman makes 76 cents to a man’s dollar; that means a yearly gap of $11,911 per woman.