Next Equal Occupational Fatality Day in 2020
MP: The next "Equal Occupational Fatality Day" is Sunday October 11, 2020. This date symbolizes how far into the future women are expected to work to experience the same loss of life from work-related deaths that men experienced in just the single year 2008 (4,703 deaths for men compared to only 368 for women), according to BLS data (see chart above). Because women work in much safer occupations and work environments than men, they must work decades longer than men to experience the same number of occupational fatalities. Equal Occupational Fatality Day is being established here as a public awareness event to illustrate the huge gap between men's and women's occupational deaths.
As the recent all-male coal mining deaths in West Virginia illustrate, a disproportionate number of men work in higher-risk occupations that are typically compensated with higher pay like coal mining (almost 100% male), fire fighters (96.6% male), police officers (84.5% male), correctional officers (73.1% male), and construction (97.4% male), BLS data here. A disproportionate number of women work in lower-risk, more comfortable and safer industries, often with lower pay to compensate for the more worker-friendly, indoor, comfortable, air-conditioned office environments, like Office and Administrative Support Occupations (74.5% female), Education, Training and Library Occupations (74.3%), and Healthcare (74.6%). These differences in work environments could likely reflect differences in "revealed preference" by gender - men prefer higher-paid, higher risk occupations, and women prefer lower-paid, lower risk occupations, in general and on average. It might not have anything to do with discrimination, and everything to do with differences in risk tolerances and risk-reward preferences.
To achieve gender pay equity, there will have to be an increase in the number of women in higher-paying, but higher-risk occupations like coal mining. That outcome will certainly reduce the gender pay gap, but it will come at a huge cost: sentencing thousands of women per year to certain fatal occupational deaths. Would closing the pay gap, if it also means closing the gender occupational death gap and exposing thousands of women to work-related deaths each year, really be worth it for women?