Column: Equal pay for equal work

Photo by Steven Green, The Campus Ledger

Morgan Lamb

News editor

If you’ve been paying any attention to the media the past few years, you know that a widely talked about issue is equal pay for equal work. The Equal Pay Act passed in 1963 and it’s now 2017 with pay equality still a problem. A huge problem.

Let’s talk about the history behind the fight for women to have the same size paychecks as men. During WWI and WWII the struggle for equal rights picked up steam while men were away at war and the women in our country took factory jobs that were usually reserved for the XY chromosome. This was one of the first times the country saw a large group of women doing the same jobs as men …. And getting paid less for it.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 made it illegal to pay men and women different salaries for similar work. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? Well, this seemed like a giant leap for womankind but there were a lot of loopholes that made it difficult to enforce.

Then, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal to discriminate in the workplace based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. This, too, was not really enforced.

Let’s fast forward to today – the year 2017. Making waves in not just sports headlines have been the U.S. women’s soccer team. The team sued the US Soccer Federation because they’re paid as little as 40 percent of what the men’s team gets paid. The women have three World Cup titles and has won far more than the men’s national team.

It’s time to talk some numbers. Nationally, women make 82 cents for every dollar a man earns. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the gender gap won’t close until 2059 and women of color will have to wait even longer – until the year 2124 for black women and 2248 for Latino women. These studies are all based on historical trends, so it’s important that legislators, policymakers and advocates try to bend that line so it happens sooner. It’s been 54 years since the Equal Pay Act became a law and it could take at least 70 more years before the gap completely closes and that’s just for white women.

Just last year, in 2016 state lawmakers introduced at least 180 bills across our country aimed at shrinking the pay gap. Seven were enacted, dozens are still pending and nearly 50 failed or were vetoed.

Is the American dream really obtainable — I mean equally obtainable, for all people in this day and age? To make a change in the fight for equal pay for equal work, write and call your local government officials and voice your concerns.


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