Aria Bendix is a frequent contributor to The Atlantic, and a former editorial fellow at CityLab. Her work has appeared on Bustle and The Harvard Crimson.
The 79% Work Clock chimes to alert employees of the persistent pay gap in the U.S.
It’s no secret that, on average, women in the U.S. still earn only 79 percent of what men do each year. So why should they be working the same hours?
That’s the playful concept behind the 79% Work Clock, a collaboration between PARTY, a creative lab based in New York and Tokyo, and MTV’s Look Different campaign to erase hidden biases related to gender, race, or sexual orientation. The clock chimes once 79 percent of the workday is over, reminding women (and their male colleagues) that the wage gap is an ever-present aspect of working life in America.
The clock’s 79 percent statistic is based on the annual median wage for women working a full-time, year-round, 9-to-5 job. But since the wage gap is even wider for women of color, the clock’s website features an online tool that adjusts for race and individual working hours.
The average U.S. woman working a 9-to-5 job stops getting paid at around 3:20 p.m., according to the calculator. But a Hispanic or Latina woman working the same hours stops getting paid around 1:24 p.m.—nearly halfway through the workday. African-American women stop getting paid around 1:48 p.m., while the average Asian-American woman stops getting paid a little later, around 3:44 p.m.
Aside from race, the wage gap also changes based on additional factors like age, location, and industry. Women in low-income professions, for instance, tend to receive more equal pay than the national average, as do women in the tech industry. Meanwhile, women in the South are considerably underpaid compared to men. The calculator doesn’t account for these factors.
As of this writing, the clock has been distributed to influential business leaders, actors, activists, and politicians, many of whom have featured it on social media. While the clock serves as a fun visual tool to understand an important subject, it’s more informative than practical. But lest we forget that many working women receive lower salaries than their male colleagues, we need only hear a chime and be reminded.