Monday, June 10, 2013

Persistent Inequality on the 50th Anniversary of Equal Pay Act

Fifty years ago today, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law.  In short, the Equal Pay Act prohibits sex-based wage discrimination between men and women in the same establishment who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility under similar working conditions. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 has never been updated, but some legislators have introduced the the Paycheck Fairness Act to strengthen the Equal Pay Act.

However, today, women still earn only 77 cents to a man's dollar.   Sadly, the gender wage gap has widened recently. The gender wage gap was wider in 2012 than in 2011. According to research from Catherine Hill at the American Association of University Women (AAUW), young women fresh out of college experience a 7 percent wage gap compared to their male peers at their first job.

What does this mean for me?

Basically,  unequal pay means you are not being fully compensated for the equal work you perform compared to your male peers.  You are not being paid what you deserve.  Over the course of your lifetime, this all adds up and can hinder your financial independence.   According to one estimate by AAUW, over the course of over the course of a 35 year career, an American woman with a college degree will make about $1.2 million less than a man with the same education.

Think about it, a lifetime of lower pay means women have less income to save for retirement and less income counted in a Social Security or pension benefit formula. When moms are now the sole or primary breadwinner in four out of 10 households with children, less money is earned for working families.  Imagine would you could do with all that extra money you worked so hard for and are fully entitled to?

What can I do? 
  • Learn more about equal pay and discuss this information with your male and female friends
  • Always ask for more during salary negotiations!  We will continually explore this topic in this blog, but read this advice about salary negotiation for recent female graduates. 
  • Support passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act
  • Share this sample petition with your local elected officials to encourage their support of equal pay

No comments:

Post a Comment