Rallies for equal pay

May 18, 2013

Chicago—On April 9 rallies were held across the U.S. to mark the day women’s earnings catch up to what men’s were at the end of 2012. I attended the rally at the Daley Plaza. Speakers included elected officials, leaders of business and professional women’s organizations and heads of NGOs. Statistics regarding equal pay for equal work are even worse for Black women and even worse than that for Latinas.

There was a call to tell truth to the lies that the reason women earn less is because they choose to work in jobs that pay less (blame the victim) or that women choose to work fewer hours to take time off to raise a family.

The truth is that traditional “women’s work” jobs pay less because of discrimination. There’s no good reason a nurse’s aide should be paid less than a construction worker except that nurse’s aide jobs have historically been held by women. As for the fact that women take time off to raise a family, this ignores entirely that most men do not do their share of childraising, so women are forced to be the primary caregiver.

A recent American Association of University Women study, “Graduating to a Pay Gap,” explores the pay gap between male and female college graduates working full time one year after graduation. They conclude that: “in 2009…women one year out of college who were working full time were paid, on average, just 82% of what their male peers were paid. After we control for hours, occupation, college major, employment sector, and other factors associated with pay, the pay gap shrinks but does not disappear. About one-third of the gap cannot be explained by any of the factors commonly understood to affect earnings…”

There was also a call to enforce the federal Equal Pay Act.

As I write this, all the Republican Representatives voted to block the Paycheck Fairness Act. What is wrong with equal pay for equal work?

—Sue S.

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