Letter to the Editor: An Unhappy Marker of How Far We Have to Go

Equal Pay Day
(An unhappy marker of how far we have to go)
By Judy Prono and Natalie Markin
Co-Facilitators, AAUW-Los Alamos Branch

Today, Tuesday April 9, is Equal Pay Day. It marks how far into the year a woman must work to earn as much as a man earned in the previous year.

The day is an unhappy marker of how far we have to go before we close the gender wage gap. This gap hasn’t budged in nearly a decade, leaving women and their families to suffer the effects of lost wages.

Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, which requires employers to give women and men equal pay for equal work.

At that time women were paid 59¢ for every dollar men were paid. Today that figure is 77¢. Although we’ve made significant strides since 1963, pay parity continues to elude us.

AAUW’s latest research report, Graduating to a Pay Gap, found that just one year out of college, women are paid on average 82¢ for every dollar paid to their male peers.

The report further shows that women are paid 7 percent less than men even when they work in the same job, major in the same field, and work the same number of hours per week.

The Paycheck Fairness Act has the potential to close loopholes that have kept the Equal Pay Act of 1963 from fully advancing pay equity.

It would require employers to show that pay disparity is truly related to job performance and requirements, not gender. It would also strengthen remedies for pay discrimination.

First introduced in 2009, the bill was reintroduced this past January in both chambers of Congress (S. 84 & H.R. 377.)

Passing this act is one of AAUW’s top priorities for the 113th Congress. We urge all community members to ask our Congressional delegation to support this important legislation.

Editor’s note: The American Association of University Women (AAUW) empowers women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research.


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