Equal Pay Day

At quitting time, your male coworkers gather their stuff and head for home while your boss looks at you and says, “Honey, can you stay here, for no pay, and just work an extra 2 hours tonight…and every night while you are employed here?  Thaaaaaaanks.”

If all males stopped working at the end of 2012, it would be April 9, this year’s Equal Pay Day, before women would be allowed to stop working to earn the same pay. Equal Pay Day is meaningful in a visceral way as it highlights just how much work/pay is at issue. I would absolutely want to burn something down if I had to work 4 months for free to make what my equally qualified coworker made.

In our last Presidential election, about half of the public supported a candidate who opposed equal pay legislation.  How in the world is it not political suicide to oppose equal pay?

The answer is obvious.  We live in a society where it is just ok to discriminate against women.

According to federal data analysed by AAUW (American Association of University Workers) In Vermont, the wage gap was 13%, the lowest state in the Union.  In Wyoming, women made only 67% of their what their male counterparts made.  Nationally, latina women fared worse vs white males than any other group…they made a whopping 59% of what their white male counterparts made.

There are, of course, many efforts to explain away the wage gap between men and women. Time magazine ran an article where they point out that the gap is much smaller, around 7%, and that men work more. The article states that women are just choosing not to enter lucrative fields or are simply misinterpreting statistics.

We have to examine such defenses critically in light of a historical, national pattern of open and obvious discrimination against women. Let’s just skip over the fact that women were prohibited from voting, by law, until 1920 as I assume women just chose not to have any political voice whatsoever for over 140 years of our Nation’s history. This is a country that has never had a female President or Vice President. According to a report recently prepared by the Congressional Report Service, the 112th Congress (2011-2012) had just 16.8% women. This is a country where, in 2011, only 12 companies in the Fortune 500 were headed by women.

It is interesting to note that the more powerful the position, the more discrimination we see.

The gender gap can certainly not be explained away by saying that women just choose not to be involved in running the world. Equal Pay Day can help refocus our attention and discussion on ending an obvious and harmful practice of short-changing women.

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