50 Years After The Equal Pay Act,

Monday marks 50 years since the Equal Pay Act was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy as an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The law stipulates that women must be paid equal wages for equal work. Yet a half century later, the gender wage gap still stands at 77 cents earned by a woman for every dollar a man makes. Here are some other reasons why progress has been glacially slow since 1963:

1. The wage gap has widened recently. The gender wage gap was wider in 2011 than in 2010 and was actually at the same level as in 2009. Back in the 1980s, the gap narrowed by more than 10 percentage points. But it’s only closed by about one percentage point since 2001. While the gap stood at just above 60 cents on the dollar when the Equal Pay Act went into effect, we’ve all but stopped making progress on closing it completely.

2. Women’s choices can’t explain the gender wage gap. The Government Accountability Office looked at whether factors such as job tenure, industry and occupation, work patterns, race, and marital status could explain the gender wage gap. Yet when it stripped them out, it still found an 80 percent gap that it couldn’t account for.

3. Women earn less than men no matter how much education they get. It’s widely known that women are graduating college in greater numbers than men and that higher education gives workers a wage boost. Yet it’s not enough to close the gap. Researchers have found that young women fresh out of college experience a 7 percent wage gap compared to their male peers at their first job. That gap follows them no matter how much more education they seek out: at every level of higher ed,women make less than men, earning $1,417 less for a business degree and a full $2,610 less for an advanced degree in science.

4. Mothers experience a steep wage gap.Just one in five families today feature a male breadwinner and a stay-at-home mother. Yet despite how many mothers work, they are penalized heavily by the gender wage gap. While men and women start out with a wage gap at an early age, they still see similar growth in their pay through age 30, taking in about 60 percent more. But many women start having children at age 30, and that’s when their wage growth slows, nearly grinding to a halt by age 39. In fact, mothers earn 5 percent less per hour per child than childless women.

5. Most workers can’t talk about pay, so women have a tough time addressing discrimination. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, nearly half of all workers are either expressly forbidden or strongly discouraged from discussing their pay with coworkers. This is a big barrier facing women who may suspect they are being paid less than their male peers but who can’t ask directly.

Few federal laws addressing the gender wage gap have been enacted since the Equal Pay Act five decades ago. The Lilly Ledbetter Act took an important step toward reducing the legal barriers facing women who are discriminated against, but the gap has actually widened since the law was enacted. ThePaycheck Fairness Act, which has been introduced but voted down in Congress many times, would go an important step further and end salary secrecy, empowering women to better root out unequal pay.

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2 thoughts on “50 Years After The Equal Pay Act,

  1. Here’s what you ignore as a strategy in order to enshrine the female as a victim who deserves something for “nothing”:

    Probably most women’s pay-equity advocates think employers are greedy profiteers who’d hire only illegal immigrants for their lower labor cost if they could get away with it. Or move their business to a cheap-labor country to save money. Or replace older workers with younger ones for the same reason. So why do these same advocates think employers would NOT hire only women if, as they say, employers DO get away with paying females at a lower rate than males for the same work?

    Here’s one of countless examples showing that some of the most sophisticated women in the country choose to earn less while getting paid at the same rate as their male counterparts:

    “In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/03/26/bil10326.htm.

    A thousand laws won’t close that gap.

    In fact, no law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap – tinyurl.com/74cooen), not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not the 1991 Glass Ceiling Commission created by the Civil Rights Act, not the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the thousands of company mentors for women, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is another feel-good bill that turned into another do-nothing law (good intentions do not necessarily make things better; sometimes, the path to a worse condition is paved with good intentions)…. Nor will a “paycheck fairness” law work.

    That’s because women’s pay-equity advocates, who always insist one more law is needed, continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women’s equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Women,” stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. “In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier….” at tinyurl.com/qqkaka. If indeed a higher percentage of women is staying at home, perhaps it’s because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they’re going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman.)

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Answer: Because they’re supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home. (Far more wives are supported by a spouse than are husbands.)

    The implication of this is probably obvious to most 12-year-olds but seems incomprehensible to, or is wrongly dismissed as irrelevant by, feminists and the liberal media: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages, millions of other wives, whose husbands’ incomes vary, are more often able than husbands to:

    -accept low wages.
    -refuse overtime and promotions.
    -choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do.
    -take more unpaid days off.
    -avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (tinyurl.com/3a5nlay).
    -work fewer hours than their male counterparts, or work less than full-time instead of full-time (as in the above example regarding physicians).

    Any one of these job choices lowers women’s median pay relative to men’s. And when a wife makes one of the choices, her husband often must take up the slack, thereby increasing HIS pay.

    Women who make these choices are generally able to do so because they are supported — or, if unmarried, anticipate being supported — by a husband who feels pressured to earn more than if he’d chosen never to marry. (Married men earn more than single men, but even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap: as a group they tend more than women to pass up jobs that interest them for ones that pay well.

    More in “Will the Ledbetter Act Help Women?” at malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/will-the-ledbetter-fair-pay-act-help-women/.

    “Feminists don’t want you to know how women help create the wage gap: Women ‘want rich husbands, not careers'”.

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  2. “By the late 1990s, the proportion of women who were ‘marrying up’ had almost doubled to 38 percent. Similar patterns are seen across much of Europe, the US and Australia. Hakim said many women did not want to admit that they were looking for a higher earning partner. They even keep the fact secret from the men they are dating, Catherine Hakim said.”.

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