This post is part of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) Equal Pay Day blog carnival. There will also be a tweetchat today from 1-2pm EDT. Follow along at #TalkPay, #equalpayday and with @nwlc
This year women will be denied an average of $11,000 in wages. Not because of anything women will do, but simply because we are women. At a time when so many are struggling financially, denying a worker her full pay seems especially egregious.
For most of us, $11,000 is a lot of money. If I had that much extra money given (back) to me, I would pay off my credit card, put some in savings, and probably take a vacation or attend a conference. I might also take that photography class I keep talking about, finally learn Photoshop, and donate to some of my favorite charities (I’m looking at you DC Abortion Fund). Regardless, this is $11,000 that would largely go back into the economy.
This $11,000 a year comes out to roughly 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. It needs to be pointed out though, that 77 cents is an average, and that it is actually worse for women of color. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) reports that, ”Among full-time workers in 2012, Hispanic, Latina, and African American women had lower median weekly earnings compared with white and Asian American women. The gap was largest for Hispanic and Latina women, who were paid only 59 percent of what white men were paid in 2012.”
We can all agree that it’s not fair, for any women to earn less than their male counterparts, and that something should be done about it, but we can’t seem to agree on exactly what needs to be done. In the meantime, women will continue to earn less for the same work. Which also means that we will have less to retire with, which becomes even more of a problem when you consider that women live longer than men.
Here are two things I think we should do. First, get Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 377/ S. 84). It’s common sense legislation to combat wage discrimination and narrow the wage gap. Second, support and join a union. As the NWLC states, “Women workers who are union members earn higher wages and experience a 37 percent smaller gender wage gap than women workers who are not represented by unions.” Not to mention union workers get health insurance and retirement security. If you’re not in a position to join a union right now, you can still support them, which helps everyone since states with strong union representation have higher wages for everyone.
For more information on equal pay and the wage gap, check out this NWLC resource page.