Equal Pay Day 2013 | Pat Yosha: Women Deserve Equal Pay

The following article was written by NHWI Founding Mother Pat Yosha on this, the 2013 Equal Pay Day (the day a woman must work until in this year to have made the same money a man made by the end of the last year).

 

WOMEN DESERVE EQUAL PAY

            April 9 is Equal Pay Day. Fifty years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, (June 1963), women in New Hampshire still earn only 77cents for  every dollar a man makes!  The gender pay gap is a problem that won’t go away. But this is not only a gender issue, pay inequity is a problem that affects families.

Women’s lower earning ability, because of failure of some employers to follow the law and economically sensible practices, results in weakened ability for them to support their families, less financial security upon retirement, lower social security benefits, pension plans and savings ability.

Why does this situation persist, even when there are laws making wage discrimination illegal? One, of course, is history. Women were traditionally paid less than men because they were viewed as less essential to total family income, thought to be  less capable than men, and  were generally  in gender- segregated jobs which were thought to require fewer skills and less education that men’s traditional occupations.  Many  women themselves had lower salary expectations than men.

Another is the continued resistance of some employers to equal pay for equal work. Policies of not sharing wage information with one’s colleagues persisted for years in many industries, and women were not accustomed to articulating their need for a raise. In some organizations, employers simply changed job titles so that it appeared there was a task/skill differential for men and women that justified unequal pay. And all too often, employers used the argument that  women would take time off to raise babies, and therefore an investment in higher salaries for them  was  not profitable.

We are all aware that times have changed, but  they have not changed adequately. Attempts to end pay discrepancies between women and men for equal work have been met not only with employer resistance, but also  with government resistance. One of President Obama’s first acts as President was the signing of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act in 2009, which allows victims of pay discrimination to file a complaint with the government against their employer within 180 days of their last paycheck. The catch, in the past at least, is that employees did not always know within 180 days that there was a pay differential – because of the practice of non-open salary discussions and unpublished salary scales! To remedy the continued inequities, the Paycheck Fairness Act has been reintroduced in Congress. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Representative Carol Shea-Porter are cosponsors of these bills in their respective houses of the Legislature.

Younger women have always had earnings more compatible than those of their elders.  The wage gap of women under 25 is about 7%. Better. But not equal.

What can we do to change the situation? We can put pressure on ALL of Congress to vote for  the Paycheck Fairness Act. Remind them that the pay gap is real, and it’s an issue that matters to millions of women and their families.  We can gather information by reading onlilne “A Guide to Women’s Equal Pay Rights”, published by the Women’ Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor.

And we can each call attention to the equal pay issue by wearing RED on April 9, Equal Pay Day!

 

Patricia Yosha

Exeter, NH

 

 

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