To the editor:
The Juniata County Business and Professional Women would like to publically share with our community the importance of Equal Pay Day which will be celebrated on Tuesday, April 15. Equal Pay Day is the symbolic day where women's earnings "catch up" to men's earnings from the year before. This year marks the 51st anniversary of the Equal Pay Act. Here are some facts that most people may not be aware of:
More women in the U.S. are obtaining college degrees and increasing their participation in the labor force, yet the wage gap between men and women persists.
In 2011, women working full time earned only an average of 77 cents on the dollar to their male counterparts. (U.S. Census Bureau, September 2012)
The wage gap is larger for African-American women, who were paid only 68 percent of what white men were paid in 2012 based on median weekly earnings, and it's largest for Hispanic and Latina women, who were paid only 59 percent of what white men were paid in 2012. (AAUW 2013)
According to one estimate, college-educated women working full time earn more than a half million dollars less than their male peers do over the course of a lifetime. (Center for American Progress, April 2012)
The recent AAUW research report, "Graduating to a Pay Gap," found that even one year out of college, a typical college-educated woman working full time earned $35,296 a year, compared to $42,918 for a typical college-educated man working full time. Even after controlling for factors known to affect earnings, such as occupation, college major, and hours worked, a 7-percent pay gap persists between male and female college graduates just one year after graduation.
At 51 years old, the Equal Pay Act has many loopholes. The law hinders employees' ability to learn about wage disparities and to evaluate whether they are experiencing wage discrimination. The law doesn't have any provisions preventing employers from retaliating against employees who ask about wage practices or salary information. The law makes it too easy for employers to pay different wages to their male and female employees performing the same job without providing a legitimate business justification.
The law hasn't worked. Ten years after college graduation, there's still a 12-percent unexplained difference in wages of full-time workers. That number takes into account everything from college major and GPA to industry, hours worked and experience. The law is outdated. Since the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, our nation has passed several civil rights laws, including the Civil Rights Act and Pregnancy Discrimination Act. We need to update the Equal Pay Act to bring it in line with other civil rights laws.
What can we do to help? We need to be encouraging our local state representatives to stand behind House Resolution 716 which directs the Join State Government Commission to study the issue of workplace pay disparity. BPW is challenging you to let your voice be heard.
Juniata County BPW
Issues Management Chair