Today on Equal Pay Day - a full 110 days into the new year - American women have finally caught up to the same salary that American men earned by the end of 2009. Even though two-thirds of American families with kids now rely on a woman's salary for a dominant portion of their family's income, every year women start out more than 100 days behind.
It's a sad state of affairs that a gender pay gap persists almost 50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act--a fact that remains true even when taking into account several controlled factors. Even when women have the same level of education and work in the same occupation as their male counterparts, they still only earn 77 cents on a man's dollar. This gap persists even in career fields in which women largely dominate. (Female secretaries, for example, earn only 83.4% as much as male ones).
For women of color, the earning potential gap is much more severe. African-American women earn 61 cents for every dollar a white non-Hispanic man earns, and the number for Latina women is a mere 52 cents.
Nearly half a century after it became illegal to pay women less on the basis of their sex, what can we do to make an end to this discrimination become a reality?
First and foremost, Congress should move forward with the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Fair Pay Act. But legislation isn't the only solution required here to make compensation for women equal to men in the workplace. Businesses and employers bear the responsibility of reviewing their compensation schemes to ensure pay equity for every single one of their employees.
When you think of all the rights that women have already had to win in our country that men automatically assume-- access to higher education, voting rights, the right to control our own body, etc-- it's past time to add 'equal pay' to that list. It's not right that a women had to work an additional four months in 2010 to receive the additional $10,622 that her male counterpart received by the first of the year.
Women across the country can't afford to be shortchanged any longer. Please stand with women today and urge lawmakers to support efforts to close this wage gap. Tell your Senator to quickly pass the Paycheck Fairness Act..
Equal Pay Day...What It's All About