Equal Pay Day- Catch Up Time

Vintage school book illustration Arithmetic


On Equal Pay Day we again learn about uneven division.

Today is our annual reminder that women’s pay is not in fact equal to men’s. It’s that annual point in the year when the average woman’s pay catches up to what the average man made in 2018. In other words, it took 3 extra months for women to make as much as men did last year.

There is something very wrong with this math.

While learning how to count in elementary school …we also learned who counted.

“Instructions in arithmetic were geared” the school books informed the reader, “to help the pupil appreciate the ways in which numbers function in the activities of daily life” and the authors of these mid-century elementary schoolbooks hoped “to give pupils real life problems to solve, problems they would encounter in real life.”

Uneven Division

The real problem was the discrepancies between the sexes just didn’t add up.

While Bobby earned $1 for a days work, poor Betsy earned only 77 cents.

Learning to Count

vintage schoolbook illustrations

Vintage School Book Illustration “Arithmetic We Need” 1955


The idea of a gender based wage gap today seems as antiquated as these vintage arithmetic school book illustrations.


More or Less

vintage schoolbooks illustrations

Vintage Schoolbook Illustrations “Study Arithmetic” 1947

Hard to imagine women today still get paid less for the same job men.

Lets Compare

vintage schoolbook illustration

Vintage Schoolbook Illustration “Learning Numbers” 1952

On average women today still earn just 77 cents for every dollar that men earn- a mere 17 cents on the dollar increase since the Equal Pay Act was enacted over 50 years ago in 1963.

vintage schoolbook illustrations

Vintage schoolbook Illustration

The figures are more dismal for women of color. An African-American woman is paid 64 cents and Latinas only 54 cents as compared to white men.

Changing Numbers Around

vintage schoolbook illustration

Vintage Schoolbook Illustration “Arithmetic We Need” 1955

Despite the figures, the GOP continue to downplay and debate the idea of an income inequality.


Making Equal Parts

Vintage schoolbook illustrations

Vintage Schoolbook Illustration “Study Arithmetic” 1947

The simple truth is, these images are surely dated, but no more so than the fact that a gender wage gap still exists in 2019.

Vintage schoolbook illustration

Vintage Schoolbook Illustration “Arithmetic We Need” 1955

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



  1. Thanks for speaking out on an important issue!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John Martin

    Masterful re-purposing of a mid-century artifact that speaks to generations of women.And, hopefully, a few men in power who need to get up to speed on pay equity. No one does this better than Sally Edelstein.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Haven’t visited your blog in a while now, I remember why I like it! This is a very truthful accounting of the school room back when I grew up. You have put the spotlight on how certain issues have made little progress.

    Liked by 1 person

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